Artist: Boards Of Canada
- click for audio / fan vid
This album was my first introduction to BOC, a blind purchase on the back of reading a couple of reviews saying it was basically a really good ambient record. I didn't really have any specific expectations, though most of the ambient I'd listened to at that point was stuff from the Warp label, Aphex, Plastikman etc, and the videos that used to play on MTV's latenight Chillout Zone, like FSOL, Sven Väth and Higher Intelligence Agency.
This though, was nothing like those artists. BOC have a unique sound, fairly slow and sparse, but textured and layered. There are odd samples from 70s documentaries, films and interviews, often distorted or vocodered or back-masked. Even samples of people counting are distorted making them sound strangely melancholy. There are stuttering drum loops and crunchy percussion and background noises, and almost every analog synth sound on the album seems slightly warped - notes aren't held, they're wobbled, pitch shifted or made to sound like they're lifted from the TV soundtrack of some knackered old VHS tape. That these sounds are accompanied by samples illustrative of BOC's interest in the US government's handling of the Waco seige, added to that weirdly evocative 70s vibe, and spooky samples of children's voices (in The Devil is in the Details
, for example, what sounds like a short sample of a child's cry is alternately played kinda normal, and then partially down-shifted, so it becomes melodious, though remains disturbing), only adds to the disquieting feel of the album. It leaves you with a slightly unnerved feeling, as if you've been taken back to a time and place you maybe never visited.
When I hear this record, I can't help but recall a disjointed, and probably inaccurate memory of a time when I was very young, maybe 5 or 6, quite late at night, in a huge brightly lit hotel function room (or a very open-plan bar or something) for some family do or other. Everyone I knew and most of those I didn't, were off over the far side, maybe 100ft away (?), talking, mingling, and there was maybe quiet background music or maybe none. I think the numbers of guests had already thinned, and I was sat on dark leather seats, for what seemed like a long time, alone, watching a re-run of an old US documentary that seemed to be about wolves living near whitewater rapids. I was sat too close up to an enormous projector screen, the film stock seeming old or incorrectly coloured, or distorted by my proximity, the American voiceover feeling otherworldly, very serious, detached, but the subject matter seeming in turns exciting and perturbing and sad.
Don't really know why I told you that, but ok... that's where Geogaddi
kinda puts me...
The album should probably be listened to as a whole, but for this project, a top track is req'd. Alpha and Omega
nearly made it, Sunshine Recorder
was in with a chance, the haunting 1969