The beginning of this album sounds like the end of the world. Nevermore (60'27"), the live release from Ian Boddy, sets out hovering just beyond the edge of tonality. Stark, inscrutable, his mental circuitry on full display, Boddy thus pulls us in and carries us along his hour long session from SoundQuest Fest (streamed on 27 March 2021). As the raw, resonant core of the bolder sonic palette recedes, the new zone he builds is lush, complicated, immersive, and alive. Avoiding cog-in-a-machine sequencer operation, the music awakens in walking bass steps, and palpitating percussion - and soon takes flight in echoing tone patterns and electronic grooves. Here some intimate drama may be felt in Boddy's passionate synth leads. Gliding between notes his dexterous playing visits areas barely imagined beyond conventional synthesizers. Prominent against the backdrop of inter-layered rhythms these passages feel enveloping and fully imagined. Managing to wring big moments from his live rig we find Boddy glowing even in moments of darkness - as might electrical fireflies sparking slow against the velvet black of space. Residing in the upper registers, above a rich middle, synth leads rise on a thermal of melody. Making use of this form's proven excitements, well-crafted tones burn through the clouds. Boddy knows how to hold an audience's attention, and even at this height, when the instrumentation finally contracts, knows just where to land. The exploration of a bolder sonic palette, the inflected wonder of his concert, and this musician's uncommon aliveness, are an indication that modular synthesis is propelling a new era of music innovation. While these instruments may seem made of something other than inert metals and plastics, the sound moving beneath these kinds of concerts is the experience of truth. While we are away, traveling through this rich aural universe, no non-negotiable realities interfere with our dream. It is upon our return from the Nevermore journey that we may have a clearer look at what is left of our realm.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 14 October 2021