Sonic Curiosity Logo

Electronics: Ian Boddy, Broekhuis/Keller/Schönwälder, Heuristics Inc., Rainbow Serpent/Isgaard

decorative rule

IAN BODDY: Pearl (double CD on DiN)

This release from 2010 offers 151 minutes of diverse electronic music.

This retrospective of Boddy's music features selections sourced from releases stretching from 1980 through 2008. The first disc concentrates on Boddy's older solo work and includes a track from his debut cassette release, three pieces from his DeWolfe library music series, as well as an excerpt from his sound design work, along with other selections from his early releases. The second disc focuses on the music he has done for his own DiN label, solo material and tracks done in collaboration with: Chris Carter, Nigel Mullaney, Markus Reuter, Bernhard Wöstheinrich, Robert Rich, and Mark Shreeve.

Disc 1 displays the first two decades of Boddy's work. The music often bears a more traditional sound, with majestic tunes and songs showing traces of a peppier disposition. Sweeping keyboard panoramas delineate inspirational moods supporting lively riffs. Sinuous melodies abound with snappy rhythms. A versatile palette is utilized, with sounds running the gamut from dense bass tones to sharper chords to heavenly airs. Touches of New Age blend with modern electronic stylings, producing a collection of tuneage that is reliably thrilling in its distinguished motif.

Disc 2 offers a refined Boddy, a synthesist more prone to daring experimentation, stretching the genre of contemporary electronics into new realms. Whether crafting tunes with techno maven Chris Carter or fusing with ambient pioneer Robert Rich or giving in to delightful Berlin roots with Mark Shreeve, the music retains a common thread of innovation as well as delivering rewarding esthetics. There are moody pieces that tremble with ethereal veneration. There are sprightly tracks that vibrate with catchy tempos. There are eccentric songs that shimmer with indescribable demeanor.

The music flows together in a seamless presentation, blurring any differentiation inherent in the actual tracks. The result is a dynamic and engaging glimpse into the evolution of Boddy's music. As someone willing to take chances and push the envelope, the offerings are diverse yet consistently satisfying, marked by his intrinsic capacity to create captivating melodies despite the approach or the style.

decorative rule

BROEKHUIS, KELLER & SCHÖNWÄLDER : Repelen (DVD & CD on Manikin Records)

This release from 2010 offers documentation of the musiciansŐ performance at Dorfkirche Repelen, Germany, on February 7, 2010.

The DVD contains 95 minutes of the 2010 concert. Contributing performers are: Bas Broekhuis, Detlef Keller and Mario Schönwälder (all on electronics), with Raughi Ebert (on guitar) and Thomas Kagermann (on violin).

The musicians and their gear are set up in a transept with Ebert and Kagermann positioned on the lead-in steps, where Eva Kagermann (the dancer) does her thing. The clerestory and its vaulting provide a stately backdrop enhanced by Andre Löbbert's lightshow. The cameras are directed by Thomas Fanger (with assistance by Marika Fanger).

Visually, the musicians are usually inactive: three of then hunched behind their equipment, sometimes shown in close-up as they caress the keys and twiddle their dials. At one point, Broekhuis comes forward to play a stringed instrument (during the second song). Ebert remains seated the majority of the time, his guitar cradled in his lap. Kagermann engages in sparse movement, concentrating on his instrument nestled in the crook of his neck. Eva conducts her sinuous dance in tandem with a few of the songs at the beginning of the concert, then reappears in costume for a few last pieces. For one song the Höseler Madrigalchor takes the stage to contribute delicate chorales.

Dreamy electronics and serpentine rhythms are accompanied by romantic guitar and solemn violin. The instruments adroitly mesh, generating a lush auralscape whose consecration is crisp and mesmerizing. Periodic vocal effects are performed by Kagermann who croons into his violin. For the most part, the music is gentle and soothing, achieving fever through intense trance delivery. Despite the church setting, this music exhibits little in the way of religious attributes, pursuing a fervency only in its dedication to serious contemporary electronic music.

Later, the three synthesists abandon their keyboards to occupy centerstage and play a flowery passage on a trio of erect electronic sticks.

The second-to-last track is a rock piece. Energetic percussion and nimble-fingered guitar join the driving keyboards, generating a chugging tune (during which the performers get to indulge in mini solos). Then there's an endearing, life-affirming composition whose tranquil enthusiasm suitably wraps up the concert.

The CD features 72 minutes of enthralling electronic music. Included is a studio track from October 2009, two tracks from the 2010 concert, and four previously unreleased tracks from the musicians' 2009 concert at Dorfkirche Repelen on January 18.

The studio piece is quite delicate and heavenly with solemn violin flavoring an electronic realm defined by atmospheric tones and twinkling-yet-sedate keys.

The two tracks from 2010 (which can also be found on the DVD) offer a continuation of the studio opening piece: fragile texturals seasoned by pious violin, slowly accreting fresh layers with romantic guitar strumming and snappy electronic rhythms and keyboards that coax everything to ecstatic heights. As the guitar achieves impassioned chords, the violin expresses additional fervor. The keyboards embellish dreamy auralscapes with increasingly lush riffs, creating a luscious climate of delightful euphoria.

The 2009 tracks exhibit similar reverence, but with a prevalence for advanced hypnotics. The rhythms establish captivating beats, while the electronics fashion territories of engaging melody replete with blooping definition. Cyclic keyboards produce a twinkling nucleus for string enhancement and sultry tempos snaking their way through the liquid mix. A touch of raga creeps in for a while, nicely seasoned by western guitar and dreamy electronics. Things culminate with a whimsical dose of loops and soft beats.

All told, a tasty package with enjoyable visuals and enthralling music.

decorative rule

HEURISTICS INC.: Live at Midsummer Night's Germination (DDL on Fluffy Dinosaur Records)

This release from 2010 offers 55 minutes of evolutionary electronic music performed live on podcast on June 17, 2006.

Heuristics Inc. is Bill Maciejewski.

The release is broken into two pieces (comprising different sets) which contain several songs that flow into each other. Included are new versions of old tunes along with new compositions.

Set 1 begins with a bouncy little tune of wavery electronics in conjunction with snappy e-perc. This slides into a haunting piece of mournful tones punctuated by crisp rotary sounds...which gradually adopts a pensive disposition with moody drones and twinkling strings resounding in a mire of celestial sounds...which coalesces into cinematic keyboards supported by engaging rhythms. Eventually a different tempo arrangement commands the mix and ushers in a lilting passage of blooping electronics blending with voice-impregnated tones and slushy e-perc, which then gains density with deeper pulsations and mutates into a piece marked by dramatic keys and chugging beats and piercing effects...which culminates in a sparkling ascension of electronics reaching a selection of grumbling beats.

Set 2 has a hesitant opening, but extended tonalities soon sweep into play, goaded on by ponderous impacts akin to something bouncing against the metal hull of an ocean liner. Eventually auxiliary tones emerge in a gentle sway to buoy the listener en route to a sequence of plodding beats and a succession of differently styled sounds which in turn settle down into a pastiche of eerie definition and then devolve into a minimalist structure of variant oscillations designed to maximize a relaxing period of introspection. Things get edgy with some mechanical tempos and buzzing electrodes for a wobbly robotic march to a finale of arid sighs.

Despite the constant changes going on, the music flows comfortably from phase to phase, often with the new pieces evolving from a basic element inherent in the previous passage. The result is an alluring progression of quirky sonics tempered by dreamy intentions.

decorative rule

RAINBOW SERPENT & ISGAARD: Stranger (CD on Manikin Records)

This release from 2010 offers 67 minutes of stately electronic music.

Rainbow Serpent is Gerd Wienekamp and Frank Specht (both playing electronics). Vocals are provided by Isgaard and Jens Luck. Raughi Ebert contributes guitar on one track.

Sultry electronics and rhythms generate sinuous tuneage with a suitable degree of oomph. Female vocals lend the songs more specific meaning.

Delicate atmospherics provide dreamy foundations for more defined electronics. The latter tend to possess a majestic flair, evoking upward movement and a relaxed presence. Keyboards trigger a profusion of lavish riffs that blend with each other to create a lush environment of haunting character. Bubbling tonalities produce a mild agitation which excellently fits with the streaming chords.

While conventional e-perc is utilized, a percentage of the rhythms rely on the cyclic application of pulsations to establish tempos amid the electronic flow.

The majority of these songs feature lyrical vocals (mostly by Isgaard). The presence of a female voice fits nicely with the fluid melodies. The lyrics are generally concerned with searching for contact between individuals and maintaining that connection once it has been made.

These compositions exhibit a stately demeanor, but in an unstuffy way that offers the listener an amiable sense of optimism. Comfortable melodies play a vital role here, relying on cycles as a backdrop for additional layers comprised of lilting tuneage.

decorative rule
Entire page © 2010 Matt Howarth.
All rights reserved.
Webpage design by Stasy