Sleeping Dogs Lie 22: dbkaos, ARC, Robert Rich & Ian Boddy, Tetsu Inoue, Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich

“Index02” is a bargain label sampler from DiN, featuring contributions from Reuter/Boddy, arc, Sunsonic Experience and dbkaos. All tickled into a continuous 78 minute mix by Ian Boddy, many people will already be privy to the DiN sound thanks to the “Index01” CD dished out with Wire back in 2001. Acting as an aural cousin to that release, “Index02” inhabits a similar paddock of electronica, serving up hot and creamy solitude in a style reminiscent of The Blue Room. Keeping any mixing shenanigans to a bare minimum, Boddy’s unobtrusive segueing allows the individual tracks to shine independently rather than being trussed up on an over-arching structure which requires your full attention. Beatific throughout and cheap as chips, “Index02” is the sound that dust caught in sunlight would make were nature a bit more conducive to electronica.

“Lithosphere” is the second collaborative release between DiN label boss Ian Boddy & American ambient pioneer Robert Rich. Following on from their debut album “Outpost” (2002) the duo once again decided to eschew the false economy of a purely virtual collaboration and convened at Rich’s Californian Soundscape studio to physically work together over an intense period of 10 days. Following Boddy ‘s departure Rich then honed and fine-tuned the arrangements before finalising the mastering of the project. Whereas “Outpost” was sonically ‘out there’ and was perceived by many to have its heart in the realms of space music, “Lithosphere” has a more earthy, organic quality. Once again the album is centered around Rich ‘s signature lap steel guitar voicings and the deep bass rumblings of his analogue MOTM modular system. However Boddy ‘s input is unexpected in its direction with astonishing sound design elements intermingling with delicate keyboard textures using high quality sampled glass & stone percussion instruments together with haunting string & woodwind loops. One of the binding forces for this album was the duo’s decision to utilise an alternate just intonation tuning. This at times gives the harmonies a piquant flavour whereas at others a glistening quality that just adds to the sonic exotica that Boddy & Rich have concocted on “Lithosphere”. Boddy has always pushed the aspect of collaborations within his DiN catalogue and “Lithosphere” shows the true advantage such a philosophy brings to bear musically on the labels output. The album is a true reflection of the two artists combined efforts and could only have been produced with their joint work ethic. “Outpost” is one of the most popular DiN albums. There ‘s every chance that “Lithosphere”could surpass the high standard that its illustrious predecessor has set.

I first came in contact with Inoue on hearing the sublime “Active/Freeze” collaboration with Taylor Deupree on 12k. Since then I have managed to backtrack through his vast collection of releases including collaborations with such scene luminaries as Bill Laswell and Atom Heart. This new record for the DiN label is possibly the most completely realised record I can bring to mind from Inoue, and he displays a masterful grasp of marrying live instrumentation and digital noise. Each track has a certain crystalline property to it, but it avoids the usual trapping of ‘ambient’ music and never breaches that boundary into the dreaded world of ‘New Age’. Musical comparisons would range from Harold Budd and Shuttle 358 to the thick noisy clouds of Tim Hecker.

Taking a hefty chunk of influence from Tangerine Dream and then blending it with 1990s IDM isn’t a direction you’d expect an artist to take, but then Ian Boddy’s been doing this stuff for quite some time now and has built up something of a reputation. Although it occasionally skates rather close to the new age genre, much of “Elemental” has more in common with Manual, Ulrich Schnauss or at times even US retro-synth dudes Zombi. It’s not that I can’t take synth-prog music (I not-so-secretly love it…) but there’s something about the way Boddy seems to rely on playing it safe that makes “Elemental” a little less than breathtaking.

“Conundrum” marks the musical meeting point of Klaus Hoffman-Hoock and Bernhard Wostheinreich, which integrates the experimental noodlings of the former with the electronic processing techniques of the latter. “Conundrum” is a trance-inducing blend of digital ambience and ethereal, often droning instrumentation. The album’s title track makes an outright foray into Eastern sounds, giving the piece a distinctly new age sensibility which runs through much of the rest of the album, albeit in a less pronounced fashion.

01. dbkaos: “Hydrosphere” (from “Index02”, DIN, 2005)
02. ARC: “Silent White Light” (from “Index02”, DIN, 2005)
03. Robert Rich & Ian Boddy: “Glass” (from “Lithosphere”, DIN, 2005)
04. Robert Rich & Ian Boddy: “Subduction” (from “Lithosphere”, DIN, 2005)
05. Robert Rich & Ian Boddy: “Stone” (from “Lithosphere”, DIN, 2005)
06. Tetsu Inoue: “Remote” (from “Yolo”, DIN, 2005)
07. Tetsu Inoue: “Particular Moments” (from “Yolo”, DIN, 2005)
08. Tetsu Inoue: “Flow” (from “Yolo”, DIN, 2005)
09. Ian Boddy: “Never Forever” (from “Boddy Elemental”, DIN, 2006)
10. Ian Boddy: “If All The World Was Blue” (from “Boddy Elemental”, DIN, 2006)
11. Ian Boddy: “Flux” (from “Boddy Elemental”, DIN, 2006)
12. Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich: “Conundrum” (from “Conundrum”, DIN, 2007)
13. Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich: “Swarmandel” (from “Conundrum”, DIN, 2007)
14. Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich: “Moonlit” (from “Conundrum”, DIN, 2007)