2. Bluetech: Magnetic Lullaby 6:36
3. Parallel Worlds: Additive Procedure 5:56
4. Paul Nagle: Euneirophrenia 7:52
5. Dave Bessell: Overtone 6:37
6. Richard Quirk: Radar Hill 7:22
7. Hainbach: Your Strange Glitter 5:02
8. Nathan Moody: Prophet And Loss 5:02
9. r beny: Marine Layer 7:02
Tone Science sub-label, from DiN records, continues to explore the world of modular synth music.
DiN was initially set up in 1999 by well known UK synthesist Ian Boddy to bridge the gap between the analogue music of his heritage and the emerging digital possibilities of the future. This label has always forged its own independent path and to date has released 56 physical CD albums as well as 21 download only releases.
Even after being involved in music since the late 1970’s Boddy has continued to explore new sonic territories and in 2016 he released what was probably his most experimental album in “Tone Science” (DiN48). This album comprised five long, slowly evolving self playing compositions realised entirely on his vast arsenal of modular synthesisers. Boddy’s love of the analogue sound has been well documented not only through his own releases but many sound and sample libraries. These instruments all but disappeared in the 1990’s but recent years has seen an unprecedented growth in interest in this form of synthesiser with a proliferation of both module manufacturers and performers using these highly flexible and personal systems.
Thus, inspired by his “Tone Science” release, Boddy has set up this sub-label to feature artists and performers working in the field of modular synthesis. The first release “Module No.1 Structure and Forces” was released in March 2018 and has garnered a lot of critical acclaim. This second compilation “Module No.2 Elements and Particles”, like its predecessor, features nine artists from different musical backgrounds with the common thread being that all the tracks were composed entirely with a modular synth system.
The album opens and closes with the ambient soundscapes of two tracks by Todd Barton and r beny. Barton is a world renowned exponent of Buchla modular systems as well as the Music Easel employed on this track. Austin Cairns (aka r beny) has a penchant for lo-fi looped synth atmospheres which combined, in this case, with a field recording creates a haunting, evocative piece. The next three pieces by Bluetech, Parallel Worlds and Paul Nagle build up rhythmic and sequenced elements with a fascinating amount of detail that modular systems are so good at. They also all use various methods to produce a poly-rhythmic, fractal feel as patterns shift and change throughout their tracks. The middle of the album then sees a fascinating experimental ambient interlude by Dave Bessell (a member of the synth group Node) using waveguide physical modelling in the analogue domain. The second half of the album has a rawer, more gritty feel with Richard Quirk building up a crescendo of wonderful textures in his track “Radar Hill”. This is followed by Hainbach using the exotic Ciat-Lonbarde series of hand built instruments to produce, in his words, a piece of “pure electronic music”. Nathan Moody then brings proceedings to a climax with a gnarly, muscular track using a Buchla modular system before the blissful ending piece “Marine Layer” closes out the 60 minute sonic journey the listener has just travelled.
Boddy has curated both the artists and tracks on this album to flow in a musical way and not just be a collection of equipment heavy demos. Though fascinating and always cool to look at, it is important not to get lost in the gear for gear’s sake syndrome. Having said that this album features Eurorack, Serge, Buchla & Ciat-Lonbarde modular systems and the nine tracks show how varied and flexible these instruments can be.
“Tone Science Module No.2 Elements and Particles” 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.