Ian Boddy | Altair | DiN59
DiN label boss Ian Boddy has been performing his own brand of ambient electronica since 1979. Over those 40 years he has built up a wealth of experience of what works in a live environment as well as being able to tailor his shows to the particular setting he finds himself in. As well as playing all over the UK and in Germany & The Netherlands he has also crossed the Atlantic several times to play shows in Philadelphia. The main reason for the latter destination is the wonderful community of listeners built up by Chuck van Zyl at The Gatherings series of concerts which provides a dedicated fan base for Boddy’s style of electronic music. Chuck is also the host of the excellent Star’s End Radio show on WXPN in Philadelphia and Boddy has often combined these concert trips with live radio shows for both Star’s End as well as Echoes Radio hosted by John Diliberto.
Thus 2018 ushered in a fresh adventure for Boddy with a new invitation to play at The Gatherings. His past performances have found their way on to releases such as Shrouded (his 2000 show) and React (DiN29) with Robert Rich. Several of his Star’s End live sets have also been released on DiNDDL as download only albums. However the trip in 2018 produced what is in Boddy’s opinion, his best pair of performances to date and so he has decided to release a double live album to showcase this trip. The first disc documents his Gatherings show on the evening of 20th October in the beautiful St. Mary’s Church in Philadelphia whereas the second disc is his live radio show on Star’s End performed at 2am on the Sunday morning immediately after his Gatherings show.
The music on The Gatherings disc features some tracks from his previous studio album As Above So Below (DiN51) as well as new material composed specifically for this concert. Boddy performed the show playing analogue keyboards and a modular set up borrowed over in the USA alongside Ableton Live laptop work. Muscular analogue sequenced grooves are overlaid with atmospheric beds of FX as well as grandiose sweeping chords. The music gradually building up to the climax of the track The Thaumaturge from his As Above So Below album for which the audience certainly show their appreciation.
The second disc from the Star’s End show is a more introspective set with atmospheric string interludes over deep ambient soundscapes. The music gradually crystallises into a delicate sequencer on Spire before the full Berlin School sequencer work out of Apostasy. Full of haunting tones the final track Remnants closes the set which works as a perfect companion disc to the earlier Gatherings concert.
Altair thus shows Boddy at the height of his powers playing two very different concerts within a few hours of each other in very different venues. Produced in a beautiful fold out 6 panel digipak this double CD album is a must for both Boddy fans as well as lovers of live electronic music.
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!
d’Voxx | Télégraphe | DiN58
The DiN ambient electronica label run by the well known UK synth artist Ian Boddy has reached the milestone of 20 years of releasing music in this year of 2019. During this time Boddy has curated DiN to bring a series of critically acclaimed albums by both well known and up and coming artists through almost 60 CD releases. It’s always particularly satisfying to give new artists a platform for their music and so it is with “Télégraphe” (DiN58) the debut album by d’Voxx.
This duo of Nino Auricchio and Paul Borg explore the post-digital landscape working within the constraints of analogue systems and the evolving phenomena of New Modular synthesis. The project has developed over the past three years through a series of acclaimed live performances at festivals and expos across Europe, which included the world premiere of a live new modular performance in 3D-Audio at the London College of Music in 2016.
Both Paul and Nino have enviable music careers in the worlds of music production, engineering, remixing and musical education that gives them a wealth of experience that they bring to bear both on stage and in the studio. “Télégraphe” unfolds over 9 tracks to create a sonic travelogue where each track segues into the next via field recordings at various subway stations throughout the world. The music both looks at the past with it’s tightly choreographed, Berlin School inspired sequence lines but wraps this in a gorgeous blanket of modern ambience. Some beautiful vintage Fender Rhodes adds to the textures via glitched up modular effects. What is most impressive though is the sheer musicality of the sequencing which is showcased in the glorious opening track “Opera”.
Even after 20 years the DiN label shows no signs of resting on it’s laurels and in promoting new acts such as d’Voxx is helping to expand the worlds of ambient electronica.
Bluetech | Liquid Geometries | DiN57
Evan Bartholomew has been performing electronic music for nearly 20 years as Bluetech, Evan Marc, Invisible Allies (with Kilowatts), and is one of the founders of MicrodoseVR, with Android Jones and the Vision Agency team. He is an internationally recognised touring music producer with over 27 album/EP releases in the last 15+ years, and has a seasoned portfolio of video game and film/tv scoring credits. Bluetech is a master of analogue and modular sound synthesis and DSP audio manipulation, and brings a passion for sound design and cutting edge audio exploration into all the work he touches. His music transcends the constructs normally associated with a calculated “electronic artist,” pursuing music with meaning and purpose in various styles like ambient and downtempo, future bass, and techno.
“Liquid Geometries” sees him exploring shifting, fractal landscapes of melodic, sequenced lines using a huge range of analogue modular synthesisers. With a distinct nod to the Berlin School masters of the past he upgrades that musical heritage with nine shimmering soundscapes utilising modern production techniques to create beautiful tapestries of sound. These benefit from repeated, deep listening as there are so many details and interlaced patterns that will reveal themselves over time. Evan also invited DiN label boss Ian Boddy to perform using his distinctive Ondes Martenot analogue synth keyboard on the track “Tranquility Gate”. Evan has also got a track, “Magnetic Lullaby”, on the DiN sub-label compilation Tone Science Module No.2 Elements and Particles (DiN:TS02).
Once again the distinctive DiN label is pushing the boundaries of it’s established catalogue with a new addition to it’s roster of fine, internationally acclaimed electronic artists.
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.