Polypores | Multizonal Mindscramble | DiN81
Stephen James Buckley aka Polypores returns for his second full album on the DiN imprint following on from his 2022 debut “Hyperincandescent” (DiN71).
Though we’ve come to know a wide range of sounds from Polypores, it’s here on “Multizonal Mindscramble” that we get plunged into the outer reaches of the inner psyche. Flickering insectoid transmissions are laid atop slowly shifting walls of drifting oscillators, barely discernible chirps and static-encrusted filter sweeps. There are moments of undeniable melodic bliss amongst the warm, weightless transmissions though, with soaring arpeggios and covert counter-melodies emerging from the fog and coalescing into perfect harmony before fading once again into the ether. The slow intricate weaving of sounds and timbres has become a Polypores trademark, and once again the fluidity and ease with which Buckley moves between sound-worlds is evident on this new album. The organic textures morph and grow, from a syncopated glitching oscillator through to slow swells of synth and spacey, cavernous reverb. Like a languid walk through the forest, while you gradually melt through the earth and into the soil.
A perfectly balanced textural odyssey, and a stunning example of the depth and breadth of the Polypores sound “Multizonal Mindscramble” is released both as a 180g Vinyl edition and a Digipak CD with stunning artwork from Wendy Carroll that matches the music perfectly.
Various Artists | iNDEX08 | DiN80
iNDEX08 is the eight DiN compilation album and includes two tracks each from the titles DiN71 – 79. The artists on show this time are Polypores, Scanner, Ian Boddy, d’Voxx, Parallel Worlds, Surface 10, Node and Lyonel Bauchet as well as a collaboration between
Ian Boddy & Erik Wøllo.
As with the previous seven DiN samplers label boss Ian Boddy has mixed and cross-faded the 18 tracks into a continuous ambient mix that not only showcases the albums featured on the release but presents an exciting and varied title in its own right. It also highlights the varied and intriguing music that the DiN label offers on its releases from deep analogue synth grooves through vibrantly melodic instrumentals to powerful, epic ambient atmospheres. An intoxicating mix of the old and new beautifully presented in a slimline cardboard wallet with an extra flap which just adds to the value and collectibility of this release.
With a total release catalogue now of 118 titles the DiN label is continuing to innovate and evolve as it heads toward 2024 when it will celebrate 25 years of releasing quality instrumental electronic and ambient synth music.
Lyonel Bauchet | Tractatus Lyra-Organismus | DiN79
Film and media composer Lyonel Bauchet is best known in the electronic music world for his mastery of the Buchla modular synthesiser. Indeed this is the instrument that was in the foreground for his previous two DiN releases, The Secret Society (DiNDDL11) and The Diver (DiN68). However for his third album on the DiN imprint he has eschewed this familiar territory and instead focused on a collection of analogue gear from Soma Laboratory. Their most famous instrument, the Lyra-8, is described by them as an Organismic Synthesiser and certainly has an experimental edge to it. Along with other Soma creations as well as more traditional keyboards and orchestral string textures Bauchet has created a unique and compelling sound world unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.
Taking his inspiration from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by the 20th century Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bauchet has morphed the title of this inspirational work into a play on synth words. The titles of the album are taken from sentences in the French translation relating to the seven main aphorisms in the book.
Musically this astonishing album marries the experimental nature of the Soma synths with their grungy lo-fi percussion grooves and swarming, scintillating clouds of texture with the filmic, cinematic world that Bauchet often composes in for his library music work. Delicate piano motifs lead to orchestral crescendos accompanied by a mystical atmosphere of swirling drones and deep soundscapes. This is a true headphone album in that listening via this method will reveal the myriad details and beautiful complicity of this unique album.
Another great release from the DiN label released in a beautiful Digipak CD edition showcasing new and refreshingly different electronic music.
Various Artists | Tone Science Module No.7 Cause and Effect | DiNTS07
Tone Science sub-label, from DiN records, continues to explore the world of modular synth music.
Following the success and critical acclaim of the first six Tone Science compilation albums,
DiN label boss Ian Boddy has collated another nine tracks from musicians of varying backgrounds working in the realms of modular synthesis.
One of the things that is so delightful about artists working with modular synthesisers is the sheer variety of styles on show. These instruments more than any other can be personalised for each musician who can then express themselves within their own sonic world.
This volume starts with a pair of beautiful, texturally detailed sequenced tracks “Abalone Vortex”
by Andrea Cichecki and “Tempestarius” by Chris Meyer which form a natural pairing that create a melodic, calm opening.
“Dim Rill” by Rodent enters a more mysterious zone with mesmerising bell like tones that bounce around in the stereo field before yielding to the rising harmonic motif of “Flutter” from Dark Sparkler that promises resolution but ultimately falls back into mystery.
The mid-point of this volume sees Blakmoth take the music sonically into a very deep, dark place with a huge slab of dread that is “Of Ash And Sorrow”. Counterbalancing the first four tracks it sets up the audio space for the remainder of the album.
The next three pieces see a more heavily sequenced space emerge with definite echoes of the Berlin School ethos that was instrumental in inspiring so many modular synth artists. No more so than on “Pareidolia” by Brendan Pollard with its groaning, spring reverb clatter in its opening that gradually coalesces into a throbbing analogue bass line. “Hecataea” by Andrew Ostler and
“A Hopeless Momentum” by James Cigler complete this trio of sequenced tracks with varying layers of complexity and harmonic exploration.
The album floats away into space as it closes with the track “Near Earth” by Jon Palmer. Inspired by the weird and wonderful abstract sounds on the long wave radio band this impressionistic soundscape fades to an eerie signal mournfully calling in the void.
“Tone Science Module No.7 Cause and Effect” continues the journey down the rabbit hole of possibilities and sound worlds inhabited by artists and musicians working in this ever fascinating and varied musical field.
Node | Singularity | DiN78
When synth supergroup Node first surfaced with their eponymous album in 1995 they, more than anyone else, nailed “that sound and vibe”, which had become the obsession of so many others. They seemed to encapsulate the very essence of the early German electronic music pioneers such as Tangerine Dream but with production values to die for courtesy of Node founder members Ed Buller & Flood, who were of course internationally renowned producers in their own right. But it was another 19 years before their follow up album appeared on DiN as “Node 2”, to be closely followed (by Node standards), with their live concert album performed at the Royal College of Music, London.
Up to that point that was the total canon of their work except for the EP “Terminus” recorded at their infamous Paddington Station gig. Surely they must have more material hidden away in their vaults and indeed this is exactly what the album “Singularity” is, the legendary “lost” Node album. Recorded at the same time as their original sessions in 1994 this has DiN stalwart Dave Bessell join Buller & Flood alongside original member Gary Stout who was later replaced by Mel Wesson for the two DiN releases. Presented here for the first time, mastered to modern standards but otherwise untouched and in its original form and recorded to two track with no overdubs. As a bonus the track “Terminus”, mentioned above, is included in the release.
The music is a snapshot in time 29 years ago when Node were first powering up their huge banks of vintage modulars and sequencers to create a tapestry of electronic sound. At times raw and almost out of control and at others delicate and ethereal this quartet of fabled musicians can create atmospheres and soundscapes like no other. The crackling energy of the sounds they coax out of these steam driven behemoths positively pulsates with life and organic energy and will be a real treat for aficionados of the Berlin school style of electronic music.
Another great release from the DiN imprint released in a beautiful Digipak CD edition with a special 8 track booklet with photos taken at the time of the original recording sessions.
Surface 10 | A Stray Ending | DiN77
Surface 10 is the moniker of Californian electronic musician Dean De Benedictus. He has previously released albums on the DiN label with In Vitro Tide (DiN8) & Surface Tensions (DiN24). Finishing a hiatus of over a decade, which saw him pursuing several film projects, he returns to DiN with a stunningly original new album, “A Stray Ending” (DiN77).
The DiN label has always actively encouraged the blurring of genre boundaries and with this new opus Dean has certainly done that with influences as far flung as Electronica, Ambient, IDM, Berlin School, Glitch, Progressive Jazz Fusion, World and Cinematic music. Such a heady mixture is immediately apparent on the opener “Neverheart” with its achingly beautiful and haunting chordal themes overlaid with an intertwining tapestry of percussion and glitched out effects. The album rises and falls through layers of dazzling sound design and compositional complexity to reach its apex with the freak-out intensity of “Azz”. The following track “Dorothy Spearhead” is perhaps the most concise piece on show here, with its vocal melodic hook and danceable drum groove. This leads into the spectacular “Non Fi” which propels the listener on an epic tour de force of electronic invention before the album closes with the melancholic shimmering beauty of “Universal Winter (Rework)”.
This new album from Surface 10 is almost beyond categorisation and is full of so many inventive and detailed sonic and musical elements that it will give the listener something new to focus in on each and every listen. Another truly unique addition to the DiN catalogue.
Parallel Worlds | Plector | DiN76
Greek synthesist Bakis Sirros who records under the name of Parallel Worlds has become a familiar name to followers of the DiN label. His debut release was “Obsessive Surrealism” (DiN26) back in 2007 and since then he has released a further solo album, “Shade” (DiN32), as well as several collaborative albums with different artists including DiN label boss Ian Boddy & Node guru Dave Bessell.
“Plector” (DiN76) is his third solo outing on the DiN imprint and continues the deep dive into organic, analogue modular excursions that this talented musician is so adept at. Throbbing, deep bass lines are accompanied by sparse drum patterns and beguiling melodic synth lines. The album has a beautifully cohesive, dark and brooding atmosphere. Hints of a John Carpenter like synth soundtrack lurk around every corner but the sound world that Sirros creates is very much his own. At times the raw beauty of his synth patches grab you whilst at other moments the delicate, glitch like sound design details hover just out of sight. The album is built upon two groups of three rhythmic tracks interspersed with the dark drone of “Atmoform” and the beautiful, almost Enoesque final track, “Harmonic Pathways”.
Lovers of Electronica, Dark Techno, Downtempo & IDM will find much to admire in “Plector” and this new album once again showcases the unique talent of this highly individual musician.
d’Voxx | 1984 | DiN75
It’s always said that the second album by any band is the difficult one to create and release. This could well have been the case for the duo d’Voxx who launched their debut record “Télégraphe” (DiN58) on DiN in 2019 to much critical acclaim. Rather than continuing in the same vein they have really raised the bar with a stunning sonic interpretation of the classic twentieth century novel “1984” by George Orwell. Not only that but they have the blessing and permission of the estate of the late Sonia Brownell Orwell to not just use the novel’s title but to directly quote from this seminal work.
Over the course of eight tightly focused tracks, which feature stunning sound design, what unfolds is a musical work that really captures the essence of this great work. Male and female voices quote from the novel as modular systems churn and chatter around their syllables. Throbbing sequence lines and incessant percussion grooves worm their way into your consciousness as the overall sense of unease and paranoia is gradually ramped up throughout the course of the album. Heartrending strings and melodic themes twist and turn to superimpose an emotional layer over the brutality of the underlying message.
Written in 1949 the dystopian themes of the novel seem even more relevant today than when it was first published. Most importantly the ways that truth and reality can be manipulated by governments and large corporations seem to be an insidious force that affects us all. This unique album by d’Voxx could well be the greatest musical interpretation of this novel to date and is another milestone in the burgeoning catalogue of the DiN imprint.
Ian Boddy | Coil | DiN74
DiN label boss Ian Boddy follows up his 2020 studio release “Axiom” (DiN64) with another vinyl album length slice of vintage electronic music synth heritage. Whilst there are many focusing in on the world of possibilities of modular synths to the detriment of form and composition Boddy uses his 40 plus years of experience to create six succinct slices of analogue warmth and emotion.
The title track which opens procedures is a case in point. Boddy crams into its seven minutes more drama than many would manage in a side length track. Soft textural chords soon give way to a pulsing arpeggiator playing from his venerable Roland System 100-M modular. Just when the piece seems to be settling into a cyclical groove a series of transpositions move the harmonic interest along before a climax of percussion and synth textures soar toward a stunning crescendo.
The next piece, “Messiaen M31”, in contrast is a calm, floating track with an unusual harmonic chord progression based on Olivier Messiaen’s music theory with a beautiful Ondes Martenot style solo line. “Rings” features layers of sequencers and arpeggios that twist and turn through various key changes toward another stunning climax.
“Teutonium” is pure Berlin School with a thundering Moog bass line interspersed with edgy, glitchy interjections before subsiding to the calm, gentle fluctuations of “Flow”.
Finally “Silver Surfer” is a slice of Synthwave fun featuring the crisp tones of the 100-M set against a syncopated bass line and a beautiful Ondes Martenot duet over a transposing sequencer line.
“Coil” will be released on both CD digipak as well as a limited edition 180g vinyl edition.
Ian Boddy & Erik Wøllo | Revolve | DiN73
“Revolve” is the fourth collaborative project between DiN label boss Ian Boddy and the acclaimed Norwegian composer and guitarist Erik Wøllo. Their previous two studio albums, “Frontiers” (DiN39) and “Meridian” (DiN54) were both very well received. They also played live together at the Electronic Circus Festival V and released this performance as the digital album “EC12” (DiNDDL16).
As with their other work together “Revolve” is a continuous sonic journey, with the tracks joined together by slices of sonic ambience and field recordings. Whereas their previous two albums seemed to inhabit the frozen landscapes of the North, this time the duo seem to be exploring warmer climes. The combination of Boddy’s Moog and modular sequencing with Wøllo’s ostinato guitar patterns creates sections that ebb and flow structurally, with a beguiling sense of space and freedom. Beautifully ethereal textures give way to pulsing rhythmic sequencers underpinned by solid bass lines and shimmering percussion lines, as evidenced most succinctly on the title track. Over these structures Wøllo’s guitar motifs soar and glide, especially when he uses the EBow to produce a haunting, legato tone colour. The final track “Adiona” sees Boddy joining Wøllo by playing his Ondes Martenot style French Connection keyboard for a stunning duet to close the album.
Certainly cinematic, “Revolve” is a stunning musical travelogue that cries out to be listened to as a whole album and shows the mastery both these composers have in their craft.
Scanner | The Homeland of Electricity | DiN72
The second album for the DiN imprint by British Electronic Musician Scanner sees Rimbaud utilising a different toolset from his first album, An Ascent (DiN63), released in July 2020. Here he focuses in on several Elektron instruments such as the Analog Four, Analog Rhythm and Digitakt. Whilst his debut album was forged live in his studio during the start of the global pandemic here Rimbaud was after a lighter, more optimistic tone.
Rather prophetically Rimbaud states that this album was indebted to the work of the Ukranian film maker Laris Shepitko. Indeed the title of the sixth track “Artemovsk” references the birth place of Shepitko. Furthermore the title of the album, “The Homeland of Electricity”, is taken from her 1968 film which was commissioned by the government to celebrate the October Revolution’s 50th anniversary, but was rejected by the authorities for not being patriotic enough.
At times the music has a sense of blissful calm such as the opener “You and Me” with layers of texture slowly rising & falling to unveil hidden depths to the soundscape. Rimbaud’s love of the human voice as a musical element can be heard in the tracks “Another Aircraft”, “Artemovsk” and “At last it moves into silence” albeit with very different sonic outcomes. Fluctuating between darker elements displayed in such tracks as “Air in the Air” and “Beginning of an Unknown Century” in the end the album reveals a sense of hope which is no more apparent in the joyous simplicity of “Acentria”.
As Rimbaud puts it “this album feels like a sound polaroid of this exact moment in time, capturing our times in atmospheric sound works, where light will be found again, even in the midst of struggle”.
Polypores | Hyperincandescent | DiN71
The DiN label via its founder Ian Boddy has its roots in the analogue electronica of the German Berlin School. However over the course of 100+ albums the music released on this UK based imprint have pushed far beyond this musical heritage. The electronic music scene is ever evolving and a new, younger generation of musicians involved in the burgeoning modular synth scene are untethered from the past and able to wander freely into unexplored worlds of sonic soundscaping.
Just such a musician is Polypores (aka Stephen James Buckley) who paints music with a Eurorack modular, drawing influences from ambient, new age, and experimental electronica. His music soars, bubbles, crackles, and soothes, in ever-shifting, immersive cosmic landscapes.
His musical output is both varied and prolific with sold-out vinyl releases on such well respected labels as Behind The Sky, Castles In Space and Polytechnic Youth. Notable live festival performances have included the Castles In Space Levitation event, Manchester’s Subliminal Impulse and the prestigious Future Yard in Liverpool.
Whilst Polypores did have a track on the fifth volume of the Tone Science series, Hyperincandescent (DiN71) is his solo debut on the DiN label. Releasing on both CD and Vinyl the music is split between two album length tracks that meander between different sections exploring a micro world of texture and form. At times calm and blissful the mood can suddenly be transformed into something more chaotic with strange, organic twisted shapes emerging from the undergrowth. His ability to play with tempo as a mouldable musical expression is at times breathtaking and highlights quite what a fearless sonic explorer he is.
DiN is very proud to showcase the talents of this quite unique artist as the label forges ahead into its third decade.
Various Artists | Tone Science Module No.6 Protons and Neutrons | DiNTS06
Tone Science sub-label, from DiN records, continues to explore the world of modular synth music.
Following the success and critical acclaim of the first five Tone Science compilation albums, DiN label boss Ian Boddy has collated another nine tracks from musicians of varying backgrounds working in the realms of modular synthesis.
One of the things that is so delightful about artists working with modular synthesisers is the sheer variety of styles on show. These instruments more than any other can be personalised for each musician who can then express themselves within their own sonic world.
When compiling these volumes it’s always interesting how certain tracks sonically migrate to each other to form a cohesive section and this is certainly the case with the trio of pieces that open this album. “Prisms” by James Bernard, “Vänta” by Elin Piel and “Eddy Currents” by Field Lines Cartographer all have a beautiful organic warmth with beguiling simple sequencer lines that weave in and out.
These three tracks show one approach to working with modular synthesis whereas “Contradictory Forecasts” by Sarah Belle Reid changes the mood completely with an adventurous gestural performance on her Buchla system. Things are brought down to a calm, more introspective mid- point on the album by “Waving in Harmony” by Adrian Beasley, who is a member of the Berlin School inspired synth trio Air Sculpture.
Mirroring the opening trio of tracks the next three pieces again show a certain uniformity of purpose albeit with a more uptempo feel with the sequencers featuring more to the foreground. “Upward” by Elinch slowly builds to quite a crescendo whereas the intricate patching on “Random Possibilities” by ambient pioneer Steve Roach indeed shows how randomness can instil a forever changing vibe to a track. Finally in this section “In The Shadow Of Giants” by Ombient is a full on Berlin School sequencer work out including radio voices from some distant galaxy.
The album draws to a close with “The Mutation Trio” from Doug Lynner which literally pauses for breath. Quoting “sound for sounds sake” in his liner notes the track certainly explores the totally abstract possibilities of his Mystery Serge system.
“Tone Science Module No.6 Protons and Neutrons” continues the journey down the rabbit hole of possibilities and sound worlds inhabited by artists and musicians working in this ever fascinating and varied musical field.
Various Artists | iNDEX07 | DiN70
iNDEX07 is the seventh DiN compilation album and includes two tracks each from the titles DiN61 – 69. The artists on show this time are Ian Boddy, Nigel Mullaney, Dave Bessell, Scanner, Lyonel Bauchet and collaborations between Dave Bessell & Parallel Worlds and Ian Boddy & Markus Reuter.
As with the previous six DiN samplers label boss Ian Boddy has mixed and cross-faded the 18 tracks into a continuous ambient mix that not only showcases the albums featured on the release but presents an exciting and varied title in its own right. It also highlights the varied and intriguing music that the DiN label offers on its releases from deep analogue synth grooves through vibrantly melodic instrumentals to powerful, epic ambient atmospheres. An intoxicating mix of the old and new beautifully presented in a slimline cardboard wallet with an extra flap which just adds to the value and collectibility of this release.
Since the previous sampler album, iNDEX06 (DiN60) released in July 2019, DiN has not only celebrated its 20th anniversary but has also released its 100th album with “Nevermore” from label boss Ian Boddy. These are significant milestones for a niche independent electronica label with DiN finally getting some of the recognition it so justly deserves.
Ian Boddy & Nigel Mullaney | Smoke & Mirrors | DiNDDL28
Playing live can often be a challenge when using modular synthesisers and one approach that can be taken is to use a lot of equipment on stage. This was certainly the case with this concert recorded at the Capstone Theatre, Liverpool on 18th November 2017. DiN label boss and long time musical collaborator Nigel Mullaney really went for it using several Eurorack modular cases as well as Boddy’s Serge modular system & VCS3 and Mullaney’s Elektron devices & Korg Wavedrum. The duo further complemented this set up with Boddy’s French Connection Ondes Martenot style keyboard controller and a Moog keyboard each. Cameras captured their performance live and projected it behind the duo onto a massive screen for a totally immersive live experience.
This concert is now being released on the DDL digital only sub-label of DiN and showcases these two musicians in their natural element improvising a series of musical sections that segue seamlessly together to create a constantly unfolding tapestry of sound. From the haunting, spacey legato atmospheres of the opening track Forever through to Berlin School inspired sequenced sections such as Orthogenesis and Paradigm Shift the music never stays still. More abstract, experimental pieces such as the pair of Noise Lab tracks give way to heavier, rhythmic sections such as Vanguard and the full on encore track Run The Clock Down.
This cross pollination of genres and styles is something central to the core of the DiN ethos. At the end of the day it’s all just music and as such this approach can take the listener on a unique sonic journey.
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.
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.