In his fourth record as Bomethius, Jonathan Hodges presents his varied talents and skills in their finest incarnations.
When you sit down to listen to a new record from Bomethius, you can be sure of two things: (1) It will be a highly ambitious affair, and (2) it will be singer/songwriter Jonathan Hodges’ best work to date. Hodges describes Bomethius as “manic indifference,” aiming to chronicle and embody his attempts at growth. Past projects may have been marked by some growing pains, but inadiquit fully realizes the balancing act of vision that has come to define Bomethius as a creative outlet.
inadiquit‘s unusual origin provides it with the strongest unifying concept in Hodges’ discography thus far. The record puts to music the poetry of his uncle, Dave Hodges, in a collaboration that feels like it was destined to be. As the story goes, the two Hodges were kindred spirits for nearly all of the younger’s life, and the prospect of collaboration grew from a single to an EP to the full-length project we’ve received. According to Jonathan Hodges, the project gave him an opportunity for creative evolution and his uncle the opportunity to become more confident and proud of his own art. In an affirming coincidence, the photograph selected for the album art dates to the time when Dave Hodges wrote the poem that started the collaboration between uncle and nephew.
This track, “A Mazing Tonic,” best summarizes the record’s greatest strengths. The original poem is an initialistic acrostic (each word begins with “a,” “m,” then “t,” and the cycle repeats) about an experience with the hallucinogenic drug, aMT. Adapting such a high-concept piece to a medium for which it wasn’t originally designed seems nearly impossible—and even more unlikely to be remotely accessible. However, Bomethius successfully synthesizes the original work with his own distinct style in subtle and clever ways, resulting in a track that’s easily listenable but has a lot going on under the surface that complements the poem’s themes. One such trick is the introduction of stereo panning to the vocals as the song progresses, signifying the loosening of the speaker’s grip on reality. You’re unlikely to notice it on the first (or fourth) listen, but it shows that Jonathan Hodges has carefully considered his uncle’s poetry and how to best bring it into the world of music.
At the record’s center is “Improvisation No. 1.” Performed in 2014, it is Jonathan Hodges’ first professionally recorded piece, and it also marks an early musical collaboration between him and his uncle, who helped refine the structure of the solo piano piece. I sorely lack the vocabulary to adequately dissect this particular song, but it sounds great, and it evokes feelings consistent with the overall tone of the record. inadiquit also closes on an instrumental track (“Yoke”), and these moments effectively give the listener a chance to contemplate the lyrical ideas that precede them. It’s a fantastic structural decision—especially for a record so densely packed.
inadiquit is a record with a lot on its mind, and it’s no small feat that a record with such big ideas comes off as egoless. Whether the songs cover growing up (“The Old Ones”), patterns of sin (“Eye Surgery I”), or reckoning with a harsh upbringing (“Inadequate”), the two Hodges operate with a meekness that grounds the record’s themes without sacrificing its depth. Moreover, the record sounds better than any Bomethius release thus far, capturing some of his most ambitious compositions to date with the finesse and fidelity they deserve—albeit within the humble means of an independently recorded project. This is clearest on the second track, “The Machine,” whose likely comparisons to Pink Floyd are well-earned. This song easily can stand beside some of that band’s finest work. A multi-phase seven-minute epic, “The Machine” tackles the experience of being trapped by the extremes of Calvinist theology without forming bitterness towards God. To hear such a grim portrait of suppression and emotional abuse concluded in a place “anchored and secure” is moving and profound—especially in the light of worship singers and other public figures in the American church publicly denouncing their faith.
inadiquit might be the definitive work from Bomethius. Jonathan Hodges’ varied talents and skills are present here in their finest incarnations. He delivers on his heady concepts, both lyrical and compositional, through a progressive baroque-pop vessel that’s as ambitious as it is humble. Though these songs are immensely detailed and precise, they encourage the listener to come close and share in the troubles—and redemption—of life in a broken world.
inadiquit can be found on all digital platforms. Support the artist directly by purchasing the record from Bandcamp below.