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Live Electronics at The Gatherings: Robert Rich & Ian Boddy, Spyra, David Wright

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There exists a concert series called The Gatherings. It happens in Philadelphia, a notoriously rich spot in the EM geography. The Gatherings have attracted performers from all over the globe. The list is too long to go into.

Several of these concerts have become live albums. Below, you will find three such releases.

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This CD from 2008 offers 64 minutes of dreamily vibrant electronic music performed live at the Star’s End 30th Anniversary Celebration Concert in Philadelphia on June 16, 2007. Although Rich and Boddy had previously collaborated in the studio on two albums, this gig was the first time they played together on the same stage.

This music fuses rhythmic pulsations with straightforward electronics and flutes and lap steel guitar.

Lavish soundscapes of ethereal character are awash with more strident tonalities, a cascade of synthetic sounds buzzing, blooping, whirring and swooping their way toward a heavenly pinnacle of euphoria. The textures waft and roil with vaporous demeanor, generating an atmospheric environment of mesmerizing turgid activity.

The blend of Boddy’s uptempo electronic stylings and Rich’s masterful ambience create a well-balanced dose of tasty tuneage that will delight aficionados of both genres. Melodies surface from pacific sonic pools to unfurl bewitching tangents that transform soothing harmonic flows into invigorating and lively music. While no conventional percussion is employed, the songs are fertile with sinuous tempos achieved through cybernetic means.

Rich’s lap steel guitar provides an arid wasteland touch that grounds the floating melodies with earthbound resonance. These extended notes bestow an empathic yearning to the aerial drift, granting the audience an organic focal point amid the high altitude vantage adopted by much of the tuneage.

The flutes establish a mournful air to the modern sensibilities, entreating a mood of wistful devotion.

This release features a mix of material from both of the musicians’ prior collaborative albums along with new compositions. New or old, the material exemplifies a unrivaled standard of appealing distinction.

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SPYRA: High Fidelity (double CD available from Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2007 offers 156 minutes of live electronic music.

The material here is selected from performances spanning several continents and three years: Hampshire Jam in the UK, November 2005; E-Day in the Netherlands, May 2006; and the Gatherings and Star’s End radio concert in Philadelphia, March 2007.

Sparkling tonalities spill like a glorious waterfall, each droplet catching the light and producing twinkles of auxiliary charm. The flow is constantly seasoned with energetic riffs and bewitching rhythms (the latter often generated by looping pulsations rather than any conventional configuration of percussion). The tunes brim with luxurious passion, each chord and streaming texture vibrantly exuding power and allure.

While a full range of sound is utilized--from crystalline notes to bass tones to flutish keyboards to snappily blooping diodes--the music maintains a characteristic high end glimmer that captivates with ease and mesmerizes with a comfortable nuzzle.

While each melodic thread exhibits its own idiosyncratic charisma, their winning charm lies in their habitual evolution. Instead of establishing pleasing riffs and letting them run as background cycles, Spyra steadily tweaks things, generating creative variations that grow into equally captivating riffs. This music is in a constant state of flux, always changing and mutating, increasing its proficiency with tireless elegance.

Prosaic percussion (of a synthetic nature) is also present. Some passages are host to lively rhythms that unfurl with gregarious regard for the lavishly blossoming electronic harmonics occurring concurrently.

Spyra’s music has always exemplified innovation and expertise, but his compositions shine with a special quality that marks him as a true visionary. Combining enthralling melodies with superb performance skills, his ability to craft undulating threads into a wondrous sonic tapestry are marvelous. This release displays those numerous talents in abundance, but more importantly (to you the audience), the music stands as a thrilling pinnacle in the EM field: engaging, exciting, thoroughly satisfying. Play these discs relentlessly, they will not lose their lustrous appeal.

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DAVID WRIGHT: Momentum (CD on AD Music)

This CD from 2008 features 70 minutes of stately electronic music.

Lavish textures form a celestial firmament that overhangs a plethora of delightful electronics. Dreamy atmospherics and more strident melodies cascade with steadfast enthusiasm, generating tuneage that sparkles with hypnotic qualities laced with vivacious passages.

Twinkling keys describe melodies of regal disposition, evoking perfect stargazing nights wherein the minds of the audience are liberated to generate fanciful ruminations. Nimble-fingered keyboards produce chords of sparkling crystalline demeanor, layering these riffs until the mix becomes a luxurious river of ambrosial appeal.

Heavenly panoramas open to spill forth harmonic geysers of startling attraction, captivating the audience and plunging them into a realm of sonic effulgence. These transitions are fluid, moving the melody from pleasant ascension to escalating crescendo and back again to another easygoing slide that will inevitably turn skyward as the tunes continue their undulant and alluring progressions.

Several passages accrete the vitality to move beyond tuneage of a dreamy character, exhibiting delicious buoyancy and entrancing pep. Invigorating melodies emerge from serpentine harmonics to cavort and prance with exuberance, tickling the audience’s rhythm synapses.

Percussion is employed, in conventionally synthesized form and also by harnessing looped pulsations to approximate rhythms. These tempos gloriously enhance the already active electronic flow.

These compositions abound with sophisticated and thought-provoking melodies. The music’s range stretches from ambient soundscapes to sprightly passages, often combining each genre with loving care and wondrous results.

Fundamentally, this music was recorded live at the Gatherings in Philadelphia on September 29, 2007, at Wright’s debut USA performance. To compensate for certain technical matters concerning that recording, Wright redid portions in his Suffolk studio in the UK.

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For more information on The Gatherings (past and upcoming concerts), go here. There’s even a CD release that features a collection of tracks from various notable performances. This excellent release is only available online. Auxiliary data on the Star’s End EM radio program can be found here.

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