5 Jul 2020

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Sean Bodley - Album Review: I Am Human

26 Apr 2019 // A review by Paul Goddard

Instrumental music is a concept that I have often struggled with. The first time I really connected with it was when I first heard the brick in your face abrasiveness of Mogwai. The way they would use the extremes, be it bass heavy distorted guitars that could make you feel physically sick to high pitched squeals that I can only liken to the feeling you get when nails are slowly dragged along a chalk board.

There was not a vocal to be heard but this music made me feel something. Often it made me feel too much which might explain why twenty plus years later Mogwai are still around inflicting and influencing in equal measure. 

So, when I came across this latest album from Tauranga based Sean Bodley I was intrigued and also slightly worried as there are few artists who can deliver music without words that anyone would want to listen to for more than 5 mins. 

Thankfully I Am Human is pushing the boundaries enough to get me hooked and creates an overall vibe that makes me want to move.

The first single from the album, Brace For Impact is a good place to start. The drums power along a track which has a dark vibe that is part cyber fuelled space rock and part dance inspired punk a la The Prodigy. To get away with making music that doesn’t have the connectivity that vocals and lyrics offer takes real talent.

Sean has that talent in spades and avoids the wankery that often comes with being a 'musician'. It would have been so easy for him to let his guitar work take over this track but with Brace For Impact he has created a piece of music that is a sum of all its parts without saying “look at how well I can knock out that 5 min solo”.

So how does this all work when spread over an album that kicks in at over 40 mins without one word being ushered?

Some guitarists will appreciate it. Sean is a multi-instrumentalist, but the guitar is where he shines. Gamers or sci-fi buffs may also get a kick from the cyber infused futurism of some tracks. I think Sean’s music would actually sit well as a soundtrack to a game or movie. Some people will hate it and in my opinion I do think it could have been a little shorter. There Is enough music here for two albums. 

What Sean does really well is create an atmosphere through his music. Take the piano led Dreaming, which marries a guitar and piano over a 7 min brooding piece of moody melancholy. It will be too much for some who may just see it as one hell of a long guitar solo but dig deeper and take in the rest of what is going on and you will experience a shift of emotions as the song progresses 

The fact that I listened to the whole of I Am Human without feeling the inclination to create my own lyrics and melodies in my head is testament to Sean’s ability to create music that stands on its own. This album isn’t for everyone and you need to be in the right headspace to fully appreciate or get through its depths. At times it does feel a little self-indulgent but there is enough variation to keep you hooked if you give it a chance. 

I Am Human is the perfect title for this piece of work. There is nothing human about the instruments that create these sounds and an overall futuristic, electronic feel permeates but you do get to feel that part of the psyche and humanism that is ultimately what created this soundscape.

I am not sure if this is contradiction/connection between instrument and soul is what Sean was trying to convey through this collection of songs, but it is what connected with me and anyone who listens all the way through will draw their own conclusions. 

Rating: ( 3 / 5 )

About Sean Bodley

Solo instrumental guitarist, previous albums include:

Sean Bodley (1999)
Acoustic Soundscapes (2014)
Balance (2014)

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sean Bodley


I Am Human
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Pitch Black
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Acoustic Soundscapes
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Sean Bodley
Year: 1999
Type: Album

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