|Artist: Ian Boddy|
The Final Question
The Mechanics of a Thought
Released: December 2007
Between spring 2000 and fall 2006 UK electronic musician Ian Boddy traveled to Philadelphia to perform at events presented by The Gatherings Concert Series. On all three occasions following the public performances Boddy went live again - this time over at the WXPN studio on that evening's edition of STAR'S END. In late 2007, to mark the launch of the MusicZeit music download website, Boddy released all three STAR'S END sessions as fully realized albums.
The Final Question (62'43") was created on the 05.07.00 broadcast of STAR'S END. As 2:00AM approached and the on-air concert was about to begin, Boddy (overheated and exhausted by the day's events) was probably wondering how he had allowed these crazy Yanks to talk him into playing another set. But once things were underway and he became more absorbed, Boddy used this time to go places he would not have under less strange circumstances. The set began (as one of his sets earlier at The Gatherings) with a computer voice reading some 17th century science fiction. Between this curious opening and the dramatic ending, which features a slowly moving chord progression based on Ives' "The Unanswered Question", lies a vast sonic zone of inspired improvisation. Bringing together unusual synthesizer modulations, manipulated sound samples and fleeting hints of melody, Boddy creates a soundscape where everything and nothing is happening all at once.
Three Dreams (53'11") comes out of the 03.21.04 broadcast of STAR'S END (once again following a public concert for The Gatherings). After his previous experience, Boddy decided to bring only a minimum of gear to the radio studio for his on-air concert. With not much more than a laptop Boddy set about establishing an even more defined and original listening space than last time. While the atmosphere of his previous STAR'S END concert seemed determined mostly by his present headspace, this concert had a decidedly surreal tone to it. The distinctive sound effects used to decorate his more focused pieces were moved to the forefront - providing a strange sense of unbalance and eerie calm. The center piece is an extended version of "Suburbia" from the Fluidities anthology and captures perfectly the twilight realm between wakefulness and sleep. This set also has a climactic conclusion. Out of a murky, swirling aural space rises heavenly synth pads - the sudden ending leaving the listener to contemplate the plane they have just traveled through.
The Mechanics of a Thought (55'02") was played in the recent re-locale of WXPN studios on 10.01.06 - which is probably what provided this work with its more aggressive positioning. As usual, after our public concert at The Gatherings, Boddy and his gear were moved over to STAR'S END for his third 2:00AM concert on the air. Compared to the old studio, the new building and environment are many times more efficient and comfortable. With a small in-studio audience for support, Boddy launched into an impressive and exciting hour-long performance of spacey atmospherics and complex textures set against bold sequencing and strong lines of melody. Having brought from home sequencer elements made on Mark Shreeve's vintage Moog IIIc synthesizer, Boddy got hearts pounding with deep and heavy patterns cycling in metronomic syncopation beneath spiraling electronic accents and reedy thin lead lines. Rhythm elements from the first section of this performance have been transformed and used in "Tourmaline" on Slide - with the entire section first appearing on the STAR'S END 30th Anniversary Anthology CD as the track, "Before the End of the Beginning". The concert closed in a trembling ambiance of cascading tones, their echoing trails lost in reverberation.
The three CDs each stand alone as fascinating statements about opening up and exploring the vast distances of space in real time. Taken together this work impresses in its magnitude. Realized live on the air, in the middle of the night, after a long day of concertizing, Ian Boddy impressively got in touch with his creative center. With curiosity enabled by endurance, he thrives in the exciting unpredictability of the live environment.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 15 January 2009
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