Ian Boddy: Spirits (95-19)
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
“Spirits is a pretty solid follow-up to The Climb with a heavier vision and a subtil complexity in this meshing of Synth-Pop and E-Rock that go along pretty fine...”
1984! It's the consecration of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Bronski Beat while Depeche Mode stays on top with Some Great Reward. The synth-pop seems to flounder while Tangerine Dream is still surfing on Hyperborea and that Jean-Michel Jarre revolutionizes the genre with the superb Zoolook. On the English side, the fans of EM discover more and more their artists and still feast on the Assassin album by Mark Shreeve, whereas Wavestar imposes itself with Mind Journey. Electronic Music is in motion, and the synths are ogling the digital age. Klaus Schulze makes Angst and Steve Roach comes out of the unknown with the wonderful Structures from Silence. It's also the year that Ian Boddy releases his second album, SPIRITS. With the acquisition of a Yamaha DX7, which would effectively sweep the creative instincts of hundreds of musicians, Ian Boddy offers an album which combines complexity and ease with a strong scent of the 90's while flirting more and more with the Dark Wave but also with this energetic synth rock of the 80's and 90's.
An oblong, high-pitched synth note stretches out its sonic spasm as some electronic percussion rolls to activate the beat and Pulse explodes in a fusion of synth-pop and of electronic rock. The rhythm is very catchy with electronic percussions very close to the genre of those years while the melody is raging with harmonic lines quite easy to enjoy and to retain. The music borrows a percussive corridor around the 2 minutes with good electronic roars. Nice and very easy to tame with his little synth-pop side a la A Flock of Seagulls and Talk, Talk! With its African rhythm structure, Living in a Ritual is a small find in the Ian Boddy universe. A bit odd because of the fascinating synth-sounding-like-guitar solos, the track also features Brian Ross, singer of the Leicester heavy metal band Blitzkrieg. His voice, joined with the effects of a Vocoder, as well as the half-sung and half-recited lyrics, make a sordid Black Mass. Looks like it was a good hit in Underground clubs of the time. I had a little guilty pleasure here! The opening of The Sentinel also plunges us into a musical vision very close to the sci-fi and horror films of those years. I'm thinking about Interview with a Vampire and the scenes in a cemetery! An avalanche of synth pads weaves a striking contrast in a sulphurous sibylline vibe. Some synth pads throw poignant reflections of virginity with celestial harmonic threads while others grow rather with an effect of debasement, of perversion. It's a thematic music of ambiences which respects a bit more this more Chthonian vision of England Dark Synth Wave. The 2nd part gets activated around electronic percussions which roll in a perpetual effect of stationary thunder whereas the principal elements of harmonies, which were quieter in the first 6 minutes of The Sentinel, spring out in very good musical itches.
Lasting more than 23 minutes, the title track should be at that time a good indicator of what will be Ian Boddy's next big achievements. Sewn in complexity, the music oscillates between its phases of Gothic ambiances and its violent, and rather well structured, rhythmic ride guided by Ian McCormack on drums. The opening is feed by a pile of organ layers and other ones with a slight perfume of celestial flutes. The drum thunders and resounds, melting into a gothic air mass modulated by a bass breeze giving a cathedral dimension to an ambience which still breathes through the roots of a music for happy coffins. Austere chords and synth effects will remind horror film lovers of the gloomy semi-comic moods in The Fearless Vampire Killers, while the music remains in its medieval cinematographic approach. The rhythm convulses in violent percussive jolts 30 seconds before 7 minutes! A structure of dance music and electronic rock soaks our ears with a lively rhythm where nestled beautiful melodious piano lines and tears of a violin still unable to cling to the jolts of percussion. Wandering in ill-famed alleyways, the rhythm breathes like a beast trapped in the tears of old organ layers while the keyboard spreads again its longline phases of piano tunes dancing like gypsy on a structure now guided by orchestrations. Spirits is always evolving! It will reflect about its new appearance in the echoes of huge church bells, infiltrating a sibylline crack to drown in the gargantuan organ layers. Quite a whole scenario for 23 minutes of music! Lamalode is a bonus track which appeared on the CD version of SPIRITS, back in 1995 on Something Else Records. The music and its ambiances are in the tone with a signature which is very near of the title track and The Sentinel. But there is no rhythmic explosion. They are rather philharmonic ambiences, including violin / piano, which extricate themselves from an introduction of chthonian atmospheres. I have found SPIRITS much stronger than The Climb! The music is heavier and the complexity of the structures, even that of Living in a Ritual which is quite remarkable by the way, give to it a spectral dimension which doesn't harm the harmonies, nor the kitsch side of rhythms built around both Beat boxes and real percussions pounded by a real drummer. There is everything to everyone here! Easy music to tame, a good mix of ambiences on a heavy structure of lead and finally a complex track dominated also by fire in the percussions. The bonus track? Humpfh!!! And like in The Climb, I really appreciate this reissue of Ian Boddy's 2nd album on his DINDDL download platform. We travel on the wings of time, to the sound of a very good Electronic Music which consolidates the birth of the England School started a few years ago with Mark Shreeve and Jim Kirkwood. A very good find!