Ian Boddy | Modulations II | DiNDDL27
The first synthesiser Ian Boddy ever played was a VCS3 at Spectro Arts Workshop in Newcastle-upon-Tyne sometime in 1978. This weird and wonderful electronic contraption has gone down in synth history as one of the truly original vintage designs. Much loved by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop as well as early progressive and electronic bands it has a look and sound all of its own. Whilst it is a modular synthesiser it went for a pin matrix board where patches were created by inserting pins rather than the more standard patch cable route. However it is notoriously difficult to keep in tune and more often than not gets consigned to sound FX duty.
As a follow up to his first “Modulations” album which saw Boddy compile an album from his live modular synth explorations this time he decided to create an album just using his venerable VCS3. This meant a lot of multi-tracking as well as using some modern Eurorack gear to give a helping hand with various Control Voltage sources such as sequencers, LFOs & envelopes. However all the sounds were painstakingly created using just the VCS3 and with the use of vintage FX such as spring reverb, tape echo & analogue phasing the overall sound has a truly vintage feel.
The four core tracks of the album are being released on a 12” vinyl limited edition (100 copies) by the Greek label Kinetik Records. The digital edition will not only include these tracks which just use the VCS3 but also two bonus tracks from a couple of livestream events Boddy played utilising several of his modular systems. The first, “Livestream 191220” was a broadcast from his DiN studio and is based around the Roland System 100M. The second piece was from his performance for the Phoenix Synthesiser Festival 2021 and uses his Serge & Eurorack systems.
Ian Boddy | Nevermore | DiN69
The DiN label, established in 1999, reaches something of a milestone with “Nevermore” (DiN69) as it represents the 100th release on the esteemed British electronic music label. This equates to this, the 69th album on the main DiN imprint as well as 26 digital only releases on the DiNDDL sub-label and 5 Tone Science albums.
It seems only fitting then that this release comes from DiN label boss Ian Boddy. Performed live at DiN HQ the performance was videoed and streamed on March 27th 2021 as part of the three day Soundquest Festival. This was organised by ambient luminary Steve Roach and had an audience watching and listening of 1000+ music fans across the globe coming together in these strange days of a global pandemic. This surely inspired Boddy to conjure up a mesmerising tour de force of a live show that shows all his skills and experience built up over a life time of performing.
Boddy’s set up was centred around his large Serge modular system supplemented by three cases of Eurorack. Eschewing the presence of a laptop this allowed him to sculpt and evolve a series of engaging electronic soundscapes. Ranging from the spacey and eerie to beautifully pastoral with his Ondes Martenot style French Connection keyboard featured at several points with its hauntingly beautiful tones. Novation & Moog keyboards fill out Boddy’s arsenal of instruments and the video shows him in constant motion playing, tweaking and sculpting the hour long set. In the two rhythmic excursions “From Here To There” and “Nevermore” one can literally hear Boddy build the complex, intertwining patterns brick by brick before launching out with some inspired solo playing that can only really happen in a live performance.
Released in a limited edition digipak with beautiful artwork by Wendy Carroll this is music that not only celebrates the work of one of the UK’s leading exponents of electronic music but also the label he has curated with such love and care for the last 22 years.
Lyonel Bauchet | The Diver | DiN68
Lyonel Bauchet is a well established and prolific composer, mainly working in the field of library music, with over 100 album releases in a career spanning over 40 years. Working from his studio just north of Paris he is best known in the Electronic Music world for his mastery of the Buchla modular synthesiser. Indeed his huge Buchla 200e system formed the basis for the sonic world he previously created for the DiN label with his digital only release “The Secret Society” (DiNDDL11) in 2011. Ten years later DiN label boss Ian Boddy coaxed Bauchet in to creating a new album which is this time destined for a full CD edition.
“The Diver” is a concept album in that it alludes to an undersea world many of us will never visit. The five tracks segue into a seamless piece of audio that explore the hidden vistas and dark spaces of the deep sea. Utilising his vast musical experience Bauchet has created an astonishing sound world that ebbs and flows like the ocean currents. The attention to detail and immersive sonic textures sparkle on top of vast oceanic swells that travel from the peaceful and quiet through to darkly dangerous. Once again his use of the Buchla modular is evident with beautiful soaring and trilling Vangelis like lead tones. Underneath the sequencer patterns and restrained percussion bubble & roil building to subtle climaxes before descending back in to the dark depths.
The life of a library music composer is very often rather anonymous so it is a great privilege for the DiN label to be able to present this album release from such a talented composer. Dive in to the sonic undersea world of Lyonel Bauchet and lose yourself in this stunning album.
Nigel Mullaney | The Turning | DiN67
Nigel Mullaney for many years has lived a life of relative musical anonymity preferring to inhabit the worlds of soundtrack and library music. Whilst he has been involved with several other collaborative musical projects it is only in the last couple of years that he has started to spread his solo musical wings with the album releases “31 Days” on DiN and “The Navigator” on Behind the Sky Music.
The last year has shown all of us how fragile our existence is and how vital it is to nurture a physical and artistic connection to creativity and those that surround us. The Turning is an album that was forged from the concepts and ideas first explored in the album
“31 Days” (DiN61), a desire to capture the raw emotion of a live electronic performance coupled with the expression of Jonathan Jowett’s piano playing and Mullaneys work with the Elemental Chamber Orchestra. Modular & Moog synthesisers were used to assemble a deep sonic palette that reflects the emotional concepts of the album fused with a variety of studio sessions, acoustic recordings and Elektron machines. The tracks were all mixed on to a vintage Ampex ATR-102 using an SSL desk and numerous vintage outboard equipment.
The 10 tracks on this album, whilst dominated by modular textures and sequences take this style of composition to new heights in their truly widescreen cinematic landscapes. The opener “Lost At Sea” is a beautiful example of how to create such a journey in under seven minutes. The following eight pieces take the listener on an emotional travelogue before succumbing to the blissful closing of the album with “Nostalgia Bomb”.
DiN label boss Ian Boddy curated the track selection and running order to create an electronic music album full of emotional complexity and hope.
Ian Boddy & Markus Reuter | Outland | DiN66
Renowned touch guitarist Markus Reuter has been one of the stalwarts of the DiN label, having been there right at the beginning in 1999 with his initial collaboration (Distant Rituals DiN2) with label founder Ian Boddy. Since then he has been involved with several other collaborations with Boddy, as well as with other artists such as Zero Ohms & Bernhard Wöstheinrich.
Looking to do another collaboration with Boddy, Markus composed several long soundscape improvisations over the summer of 2020. The duo realised that with the pandemic they would not be able to physically work together in the same studio this time, as they had with all their previous work. Boddy then took these ambient starting points and using his vintage Roland System 100M modular synthesiser started to arrange, cut up and shape these into a coherent album. As well as a CD release this time both artists wanted this music to be presented on vinyl, so the work was conceived as two long 20 minute suites that would take up one side of a record each.
Each suite is comprised of three distinct sections that seamlessly segue into each other. The music feels like a sonic journey, opening with the grandeur of “Citadel”, before heading off with the rhythmic slice of electronica that is the second track “Parallels”. Interlocking sequence lines and modular rhythmic treatments of Reuters soundscapes propel this piece along overlaid with beautiful guitar parts soaring overhead. The first suite closes with the title track “Outland” with a gentle, yet slightly unsettling atmosphere.
The second side opens with “Brood”, a huge claustrophobic track, before taking a gentle breath before the journey recommences with the beautiful rhythmic piece “Trails” that once again features Reuters trade mark liquid guitar solos. Finally all comes to rest with the end of the album and “Home”. A beautiful pastoral combination of Reuters exquisite guitar playing and Boddys emotive synth solo using his analogue Ondes Martenot style keyboard.
Composed to make the most of the vinyl format the fascinating musical collaboration between Boddy & Reuter continues to produce music of the highest quality.
Dave Bessell & Parallel Worlds | Phosphenes | DiN65
The names of Dave Bessell & Parallel Worlds should be familiar to aficionados of the DiN label with various solo & collaborative albums under their belts. “Phosphenes” see these two well respected musicians team up for their third collaborative release on DiN.
Following on from Morphogenic (DiN41, 2012) & Dystopia (DiN56, 2018) this new album builds on their previous work creating an imaginary Synthwave soundtrack. Bakis Sirros the mastermind behind Parallel Worlds provides the skittering rhythmic backdrop to the tracks over which he and Bessell overlay ominous bass lines, twisting melodies and creative sound design that recall a shadow of 1980s John Carpenter film scores. Bessell also adds his unique guitar style that he so effectively uses in his other well known side project with the synth quartet Node. Both musicians make extensive use of modular synth systems but in very different ways that perfectly blend together in these eight atmospheric tracks.
The duo of Bessell and Sirros really do have a unique sound that is unlike anything else released in the world of electronic music and “Phosphenes” presents another chance to enter their darkly twisted sonic world.
Ian Boddy | Axiom | DiN64
DiN label boss Ian Boddy has been composing and releasing music since 1980 and in the intervening 40 years has seen Electronic Music grow and evolve almost beyond recognition. One aspect of this constant change which elicits a wry smile from Boddy is how in the 1990’s analogue and modular synths almost went extinct whereas in recent years there has been a huge resurgence in these analogue technologies. Furthermore whole sub-genres, such as Synthwave, have grown up which reference the electronic music of the 1980’s.
At the start of 2020 Boddy was asked by the artist Bluetech to contribute a track for an upcoming compilation album (Portals) lovingly curated to reflect the Kosmische music heritage of many of the musicians involved in this project. Boddy’s track “Omicron” with its cascading arpeggios, soaring synth choirs and deep Moog bass proved a heady mixture that was used in the promo video for this release. This got Boddy to thinking that perhaps a full solo studio album in this style would be a creative goal worth pursuing and thus we have the release of “Axiom” (DiN64) as the result of that exercise.
The six tracks on “Axiom” certainly reference Boddy’s musical roots with its pulsating sequencer passages that hark back to the Berlin School sequencing of Tangerine Dream, most especially on the powerhouse track “Nitro”. The self referential track “Boddy Love” is an in joke with a nod to a classic 70’s Klaus Schulze album and features a gorgeous melodic sequence line that steadily grows to a beautiful climax before gently fading into the distance.
Elsewhere “Icon” with its subsonic bass throb and veil of orchestral strings climbs to a sonic summit before crashing down to the sublime and emotional piece “The Fallen”. Closing out the album the title track bookends the albums opener “Omicron” with a slice of Synthwave that has it all from analogue sequences, vintage drum machines and soaring chords for an emotional, joyous journey.
“Axiom” will be released on both CD digipak as well as a limited edition 180g vinyl edition.
DiN @ 20
Celebrating 20 years of the DiN label with Sid Smith.
To help celebrate this momentous occasion an old friend of mine, Sid Smith, who used to frequent Spectro Arts Workshop in my formative years back in 1978 – 1982 has written a nice piece about the history of DiN. Not only is Sid a professional writer (most notably the author of In The Court Of King Crimson) but he also joined myself for several pre-DiN meetings in local pubs whilst I was formulating my ideas for DiN in 1998. It thus seems suitably apt for Sid to give his viewpoint on the DiN label.
It’s Newcastle upon Tyne sometime in the autumn of 1998. Ian Boddy sits in a pub with a pint of beer that’s going flat as he talks. And talks. And then talks some more. He’s got an idea. It’s exciting and it’s dangerous. He’s thinking of starting up a new record label. “I must be mad,” he says with a big grin on his face. Something Else Records established in 1986 had been his principal home gathering a loyal following for what Boddy describes as ‘Berlin School’ output at the time. So why fix something that isn’t broke? Why go to the time, trouble and expense of creating a new label? It comes down to a shift in creative direction or, as Ian puts it more prosaically, “I’ve got this weird shit that I want to do.” He gets another round in. What he wants, he says, is to do something a bit more experimental; he wants this new label to feature other fellow travellers and explorers; he wants each album to have striking artwork and for them to feel like a collectible artefact, each one a limited edition – once they’re gone, well, they’re gone.
For some people, all of that talk about setting up a brand new imprint for a new direction would be just talk. Let’s face it we’ve all had a good idea after a convivial evening in good company. The difference with Ian Boddy is that he went away and put his good idea into action. In the 17th Century, the poet Basho wrote: “No matter where your interest lies, you will not be able to accomplish anything unless you bring your deepest devotion to it.” Clearly, Basho knew a thing or two about running a record label. In the twenty years that have passed since Boddy left that pub in Newcastle and embarked on a journey that saw him put his idea into practice, DiN has become one of the key record labels in the burgeoning, ever-evolving international Electronic Music scene. With over 60 physical releases and over 20 download albums under its belt, the label plays host to no less than forty artists and performers hailing from the UK, Germany, USA, Japan, Norway, France, and Australia.
Boddy has pursued his idea with a dogged determination and yes, more than a bit of devotion that has helped him overcome all the logistical obstacles that come when dealing with the mundane but vital tasks of factory production, marketing, accounting, and getting the word out about the work. Don’t for one second underestimate how daunting a task that has been. Tackling media indifference and a cultural shift that finds the notion of paying for music something that’s really rather quaint requires deep reserves of energy, self-belief and an ability to remain calm and take the long view of things. In April 1999 Ian’s Box Of Secrets, Distant Rituals with Boddy and Markus Reuter, and Strange Geographie by Halifax duo Protogonos represented the first physical evidence of an idea whose time had come. That these initial titles and many others in the long list of albums made have each sold out of their limited edition run of 1,000 is worth celebrating. Twenty years on they are the tangible proof of a significant milestone whose repercussions continue to ripple and resonate outwards.
A label is as much an act of imagination as it is of sheer will and determination. Over the last twenty years, Boddy has let himself be guided by his degree of interest and intuition about what he hears rather than seeking out something that might make a buck. If you know anything about Boddy and DiN it’s that he is the person least likely to try and grab ahold of a passing bandwagon. When asked who he thinks are the artists that are doing something important in the contemporary Electronic Music scene, he looks genuinely baffled as though it might be a trick question. “You know, I’m not sure. I don’t really keep up with trends. I’d rather just do my own thing. Always have and probably always will.”
Like the best small, independent labels, the music that makes up the DiN catalogue is only there because Boddy believes it should be. That is, he believes in the music itself. He believes it’s good enough, important enough even, to be heard by the wider public. Some will sell and sell well. Others will take a while to find their way into the homes, hearts, and heads of a listening community that is dotted at different points around the world. And that’s really what lies at the heart of DiN; the notion that there’s a loose fraternity of enthusiasts and listeners who will give something new or different a try not least because it appears as part of a series curated by someone they respect and trust.
A trawl through the albums released since DiN’s foundation could be said to fall broadly under catch-all titles such as ‘ambient,’ ‘electronica’, ‘industrial’, ‘Berlin School’, ‘abstract’, ‘experimental’ and so on. The sheer range of artists that have been attracted to the label should act as some kind of guide to its authenticity and the respect it has commanded from its earliest beginnings. While Chris Carter, Robert Rich, Mark Shreeve (as ARC with Boddy), Tetsu Inoue, Node and Erik Wøllo might well represent some of the higher profile names in the EM firmament whose work graces the label, DiN has always been assiduous in its desire to provide a platform for artists with less visibility. Whatever their provenance or perceived status the egalitarian impulse underscoring DiN renders them all players working in a common cause.
They each represent a kind of refraction of a musical spectrum, distinctive colours that hint at numerous directions to anyone with their ears wide open. Each conjure their own dreamscape, suggest their own vista, each opens out into their own starry constellations radiated with a strange, uncanny light. Some operate at the margins, discrete and brooding meditations, while others recount fragmentary glimpses of strange, occluded sonic environments. Not everything in this aural gallery is so mysterious nor dark. Some wear their hearts on their sleeves unambiguously offering more direct experiences which utilise melody, harmonic progression, extrapolation, tension and release as essential components. Boddy, unsurprisingly, is interested in both ends of the continuum. When he founded DiN it was in part as a kind of personal research and development as an artist.
“What I do on DiN are tracks that are melodic and reasonably structured with regular keyboard parts and there was nothing wrong with that. But going right back to when I started with synthesisers the possibility of them is that you don’t have to sound like anything else. A truly abstract painting doesn’t have to be representational. It can just be itself and you can do that with synthesisers. The sound can just be itself on its own terms.”
Tone Science (DiN 49) released in 2016 took this idea to its logical conclusion. The album was the product of a year spent investigating the juxtaposition of timbre, texture, and melody through the Serge modular system. Creating self-playing patches and the aleatoric interactions that sprang from them fascinated Boddy who, in this instance, was more of a curator of sounds than a composer. “It was so off on a limb to what people normally expect from me but I thought I’d put it out. If you watch waves or a stream flowing, fundamentally they are always the same. But actually, no two moments in eternity will quite ever be the same. On the album, there’s enough randomness in those things that they just play themselves. The composition was the patch which from a philosophical point of view is quite an interesting idea.”
Released in February 2016 Boddy had no inkling that this album would eventually lead him to create a specialist sub-label, DiN:Tone Science. Evidence of the label’s ongoing curiosity and support for individual performers and composers came with the release of Tone Science Module No.1 in 2018 and its follow-up, Tone Science Module No.2 in 2019. Just like other regular DiN releases they come housed in striking artwork. Here however their smart diagrammatic certainties belie the diaphanous, ephemeral ghosts haunting the output of those modular machines. Nino Auricchio and Paul Borg, better known as d’Voxx, who made their label debut with 2019’s Télégraphe have christened this thread of ambient electronica as New Modular. While capturing something of the medium’s burgeoning popularity thanks to affordable modular technology, Boddy, who began working with modular systems back in 1978, can be forgiven for a wry grin at its usage. Stick around long enough and you live to see everything come back around again.
Earlier, Basho’s wise words were invoked. That ancient traveller also wrote, “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” In these difficult, financially uncertain times the fact that DiN has risen to the challenge to give exciting, interesting and challenging music a home to call its own is remarkable. Against all the odds stacked against it that DiN continues to do so, and expand into new ventures at the same time, is something that deserves to be celebrated and applauded at every opportunity. Being twenty years old is more than enough of an excuse to do exactly that.
Sid Smith is a freelance journalist writing about music and musicians in print and online. He has written hundreds of sleeve notes for large and independent labels and his work has appeared in Prog, Record Collector, Q, Uncut, Classic Rock, This Is Rock, BBC Music and other outlets and websites. You can find out more @thesidsmith.
And in the words of some of the DiN artists.
It was a joy working with Ian on our three albums together. Ian’s DiN label has been such a guiding light for innovative electronic music, and I am proud to be involved.
My collaboration with Ian and DiN Records has been fruitful in personal, artistic, and business terms and I wouldn’t want to miss it in my life. Congratulations and on to another 20 years!
DiN has continued to offer listeners music that inspires, intrigues and moves people over two decades. Having listened to various releases over the years, I was honoured to feature my own exploratory work within the framework of the label on the Tone Science series, a new outlet that embraces electronic soundscapes and experimentation. I love how the label has managed to reflect the development in musical technologies over the years, with an emphasis on the hardware and especially a new-found interest in modular synthesis. Here’s to another twenty years!
Robin Rimbaud – Scanner
Ian Boddy and his DiN label has a unique concept bringing together artists to create new and innovative soundworlds. I am very proud to be a part of this. My collaborations with Ian on 2 studio albums and 1 live album are some of the most important work in my discography.
For Node, DiN represents a musical refuge from the madness of the mainstream music ‘industry’.
DiN has meant and it still means a great honour and a token of esteem for me. It indeed opens the door to an audience that is appreciating the very way I create music.
DiN provides complete artistic freedom for me to explore my ideas in electronic music. Thanks to Ian for providing that opportunity and maintaining an artistic oasis amongst the mayhem!
Ian Boddy’s DiN label has been a reassuring oasis of quality electronica for many patrons of the art over these past two decades, so to be among the creative roster at DiN records is a great honour.
Paul & Nino (d’Voxx)
DiN: The kind of label you want to collect everything from. As well as fine music, with excellent production values, their artwork is second to none. A truly inspirational catalogue, one of which we were glad to be part of.
Radio Massacre International
Releasing on DIN felt like arriving in a club of select artists – like if your essay got picked up by an esteemed magazine. A place where electronic music is taken seriously for itself, not as a functional tool.
To me, DiN is a trusted and high quality source of diverse, thoughtful electronic music. Exactly what the world needs, in other words.
DiN gave me the opportunity to expose my music to the world. Before DiN, the audience for my music was much smaller, reduced mostly to Greece and a very small audience abroad. I really want to thank Ian and DiN for helping me and my music to grow and let the whole world appreciate my art. DiN really values and helps its artists and I really appreciate that.
Bakis Sirros aka Parallel Worlds
Much more than simply facilitating it, DiN is a rare space that actually nurtures experimental electronica. And I am proud to be a small part of it.
It’s always a special moment when I get my hands on the latest DiN release, its hard to put that feeling into words. There was a moment a year ago when I was performing on stage with DiN founder Ian Boddy, the beats and bass line from my system were weaving in and out of Ian’s expertly crafted soundscapes and we shared a perfect moment of musical unity. I get that same feeling with every DiN release, the label acts as a vessel for some of the most progressive music you’ll hear anywhere and allows new and established artists to continue to push sonic boundaries and create amazing genre defining music. Here’s to the next 20 years!
Ian Boddy Patreon Page
I’ve started a Patreon Page to engage more closely with followers of my music. If you’re not familiar with Patreon it’s sort of like a subscriber account but on a more personal level. I’ve got a huge archive of rare & unreleased music as well as studio & modular experiments that I want to share with you via this page. There are 3 levels of subscription:
Channel 1 @ $1 per month. This basic level gets you access to my Patreon page so you can see what’s going on.
Channel 2 @ $5 per month. Each month I will post a minimum of 30 minutes of rare, archive or unreleased music for you to enjoy.
Channel 3 @ $10 per month. Access to all the music posted for Channel 2 subscribers plus a minimum of a further 30 minutes of studio & modular synth experiments & bonus material.
November was the first month & kicked off with the first set of my inaugural performance at the Gatherings in Philadelphia back in 2000. Although some of this concert was released as the album Shrouded it has never been released in it’s entirety. I’ve remastered the audio & the second set plus encore is going to be made available in December. There was also a further 4 tracks online for Channel 3 subscribers.
Please have a look & consider subscribing to what I hope will be a new & unique way to engage with my music.