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 ------Ian Boddy - Slide
STYLE   Pure synthesiser expression with muscular beats and aerial melodies. The slightly eerie chiming of blunt gongs introduces Slide - an otherworldly atmosphere thickened with synthetic bass and edged with jangling shell-like percussives. Over this evocative backdrop comes the first sliding melody line - as if bowed, fretless, an expressive lead flowing smoothly from note to note. Subsequent tracks see Boddy's distinctive programmed rhythms propelling the music, complimentary bass lines gutsy, plastic stabs in places, rubbery arpeggios in others. As the name of the album indicates the sound of gliding, keening synths are a feature of most pieces; however, the array of other electronic sound is truly impressive: gritty distorted notes, spacey sci-fi effects, jittery sequential lattice works, feathery drones and lush pads. Most tracks are densely layered, full of detail and constantly in a state of flux as rhythms and melodic forms morph in content and vary in intensity.
MOOD   There are considerable shifts in the tenor of this album - one moment the music has an uneasy, brooding peculiarity, then a somewhat industrial harshness underlies near processional grandeur, then beautiful weightless themes soar across pulsing organic-mechanic arrangements or hypnotic slow motion strains waft up like thin plumes of smoke from a stick of coloured incense. There are some warmer passages on the album such as the bright title track where the beauty of the slide lead is lifted by the harmonious rippling of layered arpeggios and various sonic air movements swishing across the surface.
ARTWORK   Slide arrives in a jewelcase with artwork in keeping with DiN's pattern: broad borders of white and pale grey letterbox an abstract painting by Bernhard Wöstheinrich that runs across to the second insert panel. This is a deep, deep blue design with veins and overlays of paler hue, white and egg-like yellows. There is a strongly diagonal movement to the piece as if caught in motion. The rear cover repeats a section of the painting, pushing track titles into the border above along with their timings; website details below. Inside the insert opens to reveal a second tracklist, an extensive gear list and a paragraph of thanks and credits, the opposite panel given over to a monochrome portrait of the artist at work.

Slide is the sixteenth solo release from the prolific Ian Boddy, his musical career dating back to the late seventies. Released as follow-up to his 2006 album Elemental this latest disc again appears via Boddy's own DiN label (dedicated to imaginative and exploratory electronic music); this is now Din 31. Slide is primarily built around a new analogue keyboard developed from the Ondes Martenot. This was invented back in 1928 by Maurice Martenot with a sound initially very similar the Theremin. A wire and ring pulley system in front of the keyboard along with additional rocker switch control allows the player to move from note to note in unbroken flow. Sweeping glissandi, expressive vibrato effects and gliding, keening melodies are all possibilities opened up to the skilled player - Ian Boddy enthusiastically making full use of all of them. Slide is made up of nine tracks laid out in a structure of threes - a beatless legato followed by three strongly percussive tracks, then a repetition of the pattern. Masterfully engineered, this is an impressive addition to Boddy's growing discography: all that fans have come to expect is here plus the novel employment of fresh intrumentation.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   The DiN sound is now so well established that most electronic music fans will know very much what to hope for from this latest release - Ian Boddy's own music clearly on the front edge of the label's breaking wave. There are echoes of post Tangerine Dream roots way down in the music somewhere, but there is a bolder, more edgy quality to Boddy's sound. This is synthesiser music with a rock solid foundation venturing as far as the imagination allows.
PROMOTIONAL WORDS   Slide is the studio album follow-up to Elemental (DiN25) and is the sixteenth full solo CD release by DiN label boss Ian Boddy.
Although Boddy has a well known love of vintage analogue synths he's never made a big deal of whatever gear he's used on a particular project as it's always been the music on each release that has governed what audio tools he's employed. However Slide is dominated by the sound and playing techniques Boddy has coaxed from a new musical instrument he aquired in 2008. This is a modern analogue version of the keyboard employed by the Ondes Martenot (invented in the 1920's) which utilises a wire and ring pulley system sitting in front of a keyboard via which the player can smoothly glide between notes and create natural vibrato. Furthermore a rocker switch on the left of the keyboard allows for the natural and subtle control of the articulation of each note. This instrument breathes new life into playing a synthesiser and allows for an incredibly expressive performance. In combination with Boddy's large modular analogue synth a series of beautiful, expressive tones emerge that are arranged over nine pieces. Indeed analogue sounds dominate throughout the album lending a gorgeously lush, warm sound to the tracks. Musically the album is split between three beautifully expressive legato pieces and six up-tempo tracks which employ Boddy's trademark inventive rhythms with soaring, expressive synth voices.
Thus even after a musical career spanning 28 years Boddy still has the ability to discover new ways of expressing himself and producing an album that will delight and surprise with it's musical inventiveness.
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 ------ThieThierry David - Ocean Rhapsody

Gentle electronic instrumentals with a very contemporary feel. The tracks here are uncluttered and relaxing - soothing melodies laid out over easy rhythms, soft washes and warm basslines. Pianos feature strongly taking the lead or laying down languid embellishments to broader themes. There are various world music sounds tightly woven into the mix that call to mind David's Buddha Bar connections - however, the main thrust of this album is one of melodic tranquillity rather than worldbeat exotica. There is something of a lounge music aesthetic, a restrained cool, something too that calls to mind spa atmospheres. I could easily imagine some of these tracks accompanying nature film - the hypnotic dreaminess is strongly evocative.

ARTWORK   Ocean Rhapsody comes in a luxurious glossy digipack held in a card sleeve with an accompanying booklet. The outer sleeve artwork mirrors the main gatefold package which opens into three panels. On the front - a transparent spiral shell tinted in pastel rainbow hues - simple plain backdrop. On the rear is a similarly coloured seahorse an elegant divider - track titles to the right, a brief discussion of the project to the left. The remaining outer panel folds out to reveal another shell - uncomplicated almost presented as if a gallery exhibit. Inside, the three panels are decorated only with close up sections of the main spiral shell - its chambers and edges rolling in soft curves. The booklet has sixteen pages brimming with information in French, tinted bubble masses tripping upward among the text. A portrait of the artist can also found here along with a brief biography.
OVERALL    Internationally renowned French musician, director, producer Thierry David adds to his extensive discography this latest release via Vox Terrae Publishing. David has an extensive CV, having released a long string of solo albums, appeared on various compilations, collaborated on a number of releases and produced others. This current ten track album sits comfortably atop this musical history - the quality is top notch, beautiful clarity and crystal dynamics. If you enjoy attractive music to enjoy on headphones, to drift away to, to set a mood of dreamy serenity - Ocean Rhapsody is well worth exploring. Why not have a listen on the artist's own website.




 ------ThieRudy Adrian - Desert Realms

Engrossing ambient music with plenty of detail to hold the attention. Desert Realms is built around undulating, silken drones of a soft harmonious nature - these underlying forms variously enhanced by a broad range of additional sound: delicate chimes, clanging gongs, meandering vocalisations, suggestions of desert fauna - the blending of organic sound with synthetic is seamless and very effective. The expressive flute work of Nick Prosser drifts thickly across a number of pieces - woody, breathy plumes of melody across the expansive smoothness of the sonic terrain. Percussive aspects are subtle - the distant dull thump of a bass drum, tinkling chimes or cricket chirps - for the most part, however, Desert Realms is beatless and wide open. The music at times drifts like immense cloud movement, at other times stillness pervades - steady tones shifting ever so slightly, birds, flutes dancing in the soundspace or hints of melody touching the air. Water recordings, thunder or bird song assist in establishing an environment in places - working to compliment the mostly serene mood, the feeling of natural peace that runs throughout.

ARTWORK   Desert Realms is a jewel case release adorned with suitable photographic imagery. The front cover shot runs across to the rear cover when the case is opened - a striking red rock arch against empty blue sky. Track titles barely distract from the pictorial impact - a light white font off to one side with track times for each piece. Opening up an arid scene of layered stone runs from immediate foreground into far distance - deeply grooved, heavy shadows and bright sunshine in powerful contrast. Here to the top left are brief thanks, artwork credits and contact details for the artist. The remaining page of the insert features an explanation of the album's origins and a gear list for the music. Hidden away behind the disc - a hazy portrait photograph.
OVERALL    New Zealand based Rudy Adrian produces music for film and television as well as developing his own releases. This album comes once more through Lotuspike Records (a part of the Spotted Peccary company) and consists of eleven panoramic soundscapes inspired by the deserts of the American South West. Previous Rudy Adrian releases have also explored a more sequencer based sound with Berlin school influences. The album includes a live performance by Adrian and Nick Prosser from 2001 - Nick's expertly played baroque flute appearing on various tracks across this album. Sound samples can be found at the label website here.




 ------ThiePan Electric & Ishq - About Time

Electronic soundscapes with programmed beats. About Time presents a series of rather subtle electronic compositions that rely less on melody than ambient structures and interesting effects. The music has retro synthesiser music feel in many places especially in the rhythmic content, but there are some psychedelic sixties references too with mellotrons and even some strongly effected vocals. Other tracks have a more contemporary air, repeating motifs rolling across faint drones and twinkling synth forms, evolving patterns ebbing and flowing whilst bubbling details ascend in curls. Spoken voice samples muse on the nature of time, attractive electric guitar lines glisten whilst the pace takes on a slightly jazzy nature. Beats range from quite strident electro beats urged on by rubbery bass lines to restful dreamy affairs with muted tones and echoing hits - many tracks have extended introductions where beatless space allows concentration on the less obvious aspects of the music.

ARTWORK   This CD comes in a jewel case with a two panel insert. The front cover is a semi-abstracted landscape of ashen horizons before a luminous sky. An uncertain form lies in the lower left corner that eventually resolves into a hazy clock face. The lines and tones of the front cover image run across onto the second panel of the insert once opened out - no text here, just the Absolute Ambient 'a' logo. The rear cover holds the timed tracklist with minimal credits and website details. The insert unfolds revealing a double page montage image with a Dali-esque rippled clock atop a statue plinth. The skyline behind includes Big Ben - two clock faces visible at this diagonal angle. No words here - simply visuals.

Ambient Nun DJ otherwise known as Matt Coldrick comes together as Pan Electric with Ishq's Matt Hillier to deliver this collaborative album. The disc comes via Absolute Ambient and holds seven medium length tracks between three and a half minutes up to almost fourteen and a half. The duo cite such influences as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, Floyd, Eno and Orbit as fuel for the project. As to the collaborative input - promotional material explains "Ishq raids his sonic lab for the best in contemporary electronic sound design and Pan Electric provide the lush instrumental arrangements creating an ambient hybrid with variety, depth and soul." There are previews and options to download individual tracks on the label website.




 ------ThieAnnie Barker - Mountains and Tumult
STYLE   Idyllic Cocteau-esque guitar soundscapes and ethereal dreampop vocals. This album holds much of what made the Cocteau Twins distinctive and delightful as well as a fresh raw quality that takes familiar sounds in a new direction. Barker sings in a style that picks up enough nostalgic references to Liz Fraser to appeal to most fans of the defunct Cocteaus - yet she brings also her own personality to the album. Words are all clear and comprehensible with an honest prosaic angst that is unusual against such a romantic backdrop. An angelic wistfulness is present in the voice - but here it touches the edges like sun behind clouds rather than colouring everything as often happens in the genre. At times the singing is sweet and heavenly, sometimes multi layered - self harmonising and delightfully rich, in other places the style is very direct, strong and strident. Guthrie's unique playing is instantly recognisable - shimmering guitar arpeggios and cascading layers, beautifully lush flanged basslines and laid back drum programming. There are hints of Annie's interest in jazz music in places such as the emotive Elliott's song, some downbeat, reflective, liquid meandering passages and some climactic outpourings of pure sonic bliss.
ARTWORK   Pristine white ground supports a series of high key photographs of the singer. On the front cover a full length portrait sees Annie draped in a white wrap skirt clutching a leafy metal bodice against her torso. On the rear - the leaves are gone, the pose seated, a slight look of introspective distain. Behind the CD the discarded item of clothing lies flat encircled by graphic swirls. Track titles are on the back cover in a simple column to the upper left. Inside there is a generous twelve page booklet full of lyrics set out against various portrait imagery. A page of credits and thanks fill the final page inside.

Annie Barker debut's with an interesting approach - an album bearing her own name and personal stamp of individuality, yet at the same time overtly building on the towering foundation established by collaborator Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. Incredibly she does a fine job - stepping into the vocal spot with all the associations that those guitar forms conjure up is no easy task - but this is a wonderful album, confident, powerful and pleasingly inhabiting the right Janus position looking backward and looking forward. If anything this is an album that might draw in a comparatively wider audience, being relatively accessible. Sleeve notes reveal that Annie Barker does more than just sing on this release; she plays guitar, writes all her own lyrics and carries out her own engineering too. Robin Guthrie for his part mixed and mastered the songs, as well as laying down guitar, bass, and drums. Delivered via her own Beautiful Revolution Records - Mountains and Tumult has ten tracks that can be previewed on Annie's own website.




 ------ThieBersarin Quartett

Ambient, downtempo and orchestral soundscaping. Bersarin Quartett unifies this imaginative album with a dreamy filmic quality that sometimes takes on a sparse almost ambient subtlety, in other places though, the music deepens into lush chillout, drowsy beats full of hiss and crackle setting everything into fluid motion. Strings are employed to powerful effect on a number of the tracks - indeed it is the neo-classical compositional elements that lift Bersarin Quartett above the average. Nachtblind, for example, is a gorgeously cinematic low key piece with doleful piano, thick with reverb, and smooth strings hanging deep within a static-damaged space, glitchy beat trailing further flickering scratches across the surface. There are tracks that include lazy guitar lines and almost jazzy brushed beats, double bass, others with more electronic content the rhythmic pace building on occasion into driving intensity. For the most part though this is a distinctly unhurried collection where oceanic orchestral swells roll in ponderous ebb and flow, enhanced by the masterful use of white noise, sonic damage and peculiar aural antiquing effects. There is a touching wistfulness to much of the music - a nostalgic warmth and gloomy soft focus that manage to sound both bang up to date and delightfully timeless.

ARTWORK   My promotional copy came in a simple black wallet with no artwork - so I'm not really sure of what comes with this release. Doubtless the image of the young girl, hand flung up before her face is a prime factor of the packaging somewhere.

Bersarin Quartett is the project title of German musician Thomas, who describes his music appropriately as "imaginary fictional filmscores". Produced using samples and technology rather than live musicians, this CD nevertheless manages to brim with feeling and emotion. This self titled debut comes from the relatively new Lidar Productions label as follow-up to the 2007 Jasper tx album A Darkness. The ten tracks on Bersarin Quartett range across a number of instrumental styles - elegant violin and cello strains against electronic drones and textures, sleepy live drum kit rhythms and distant brass phrases, synthetic melody lines and programmed grooves. Comparisons with Deaf Centre are inevitable when brooding classical elements, sibilant sonic detritus and ambient soundscaping come together - but Bersarin Quartett stand favourably alongside and clearly the project has a distinct identity with a vision of its own.