Darren Michael Boyd is a prime example of what could be a post-celebrity. After all, one of his most decorated musical achievements is a track called ‘This Song Won’t Get Played on the Radio’. A gifted guitarist, Boyd had affiliations with various noteworthy bands and singers – including Black Ju-Ju, Calico Cooper, Beasto Blanco, and Famous Underground. However his step into being the star of his own show came at a hefty price.
Boyd’s debut solo album, Lifting the Curse, was a requiem for his struggling to cope with the debilitating health effects of a deadly automobile accident, followed by intensive physical therapy. Despite the pain and isolation he faced, the album went on to receive favorable recognition – including a track featuring famed rock drummer Emily Dolan for ‘Was It Something I Said’. The critical reaction to the album subsequently saw Boyd release his sophomore effort, Wonders Of The Invisible World.
Much like his first work, Wonders Of The Invisible World is irreverent, free-spirited, and feels deeply and painfully personal. The first few tracks, including ‘Earth Pads’ and ‘Night of the Neurotoxins’ have a wild, kinetic energy. While not mixed as loud, heavy metal pieces, they exude an intense energy and relentlessness that makes the experience both invigorating and exhausting to listen to.
This is in part because the tracks are instrumental, so no vocals can distract you from the whirring of the guitar, the thundering bass, and the sound of the drums expertly mixed as a supporting player in the background. The ‘singer’ is Boyd’s guitar, going from cheerfully cacophonic to contemplative and melancholy in seconds. One can feel the pain and passion of Boyd’s process in these tracks more than anywhere else. Then the album starts to change. The fourth track, ‘Making a Homuculus’ sports a more dispirited, saddening air. And while the tempo and energy is still there, the cheeriness has all but ceased with the waif-like cry piercing the background of the song.
Collectively the album feels like an A to Z tour from Boyd’s early life to his present. The opening tracks seem to symbolize a warm-hearted naïveté, the middle of the album continuing the depressive nature of ‘Making a Homuculus’, and the last half of Wonders seeming to sport a righteous anger. The guitar sings balefully across the rest of the tracks, ‘Ice Storm’ being a particular highlight of this. Boyd is angry, and as the listener, you are too. ‘Ice Storm’ in particular feels like an ode to anyone struggling to get back up on their feet. Boyd’s personal journey haunts every beat of the drum, and every intonation of the bass – especially evocative when listened to via headphones or earbuds. In short, Wonders Of The Invisible World is Darren Michael Boyd’s articulation of his journey, and Darren Michael Boyd is a strong example of the post-modern celebrity.
As a self-released artist, he is free in all the ways others are not, he can communicate in the way all others cannot, and as a listener you can enjoy the pure, unfiltered honesty of his record as a result. There are no paternalistic producers or music executives censoring what you can hear. This is Darren Michael Boyd.
by Alexander Marais