Review Summary: The Scottish duo create a subtly evil package that takes listeners on a unique journey that is different for every individual.
Following up a classic album seems like it would be a daunting task. The pressure is high, the fans are brooding in wait, and it would seem like no matter what you put out for the next release, there’s no way you can top what you’ve already done. A classic’s a classic - who could top that?
Boards of Canada approached and dealt with the momentous task of following up Music Has A Right To Children
in relative silence. No one knew this album was coming in 2002 until it popped up on release calendars, and what’s more, the Scottish duo kept their mouths shut in relation to the actual sound of their next release. After the initial release, new listeners and fans rushed to play the new album expecting an awe-inspiring experience. What they got was certainly that and more. When the sound of “Ready Let’s Go” first started trickling through the speakers of listeners, a very peculiar phenomenon took place across the globe that is still true to the present. Whereas one listener on one side of the globe may have found a pleasing, soothing record - not unlike the feelings associated with the previous album, another listener across seas or even next door heard a sound like that of eerie terror unlike any they had ever known before. This album is open to interpretation: ever listener is bound to hear something different. With Geogaddi
, Boards of Canada have met up to the expectations that were first set by the classic Music Has A Right To Children
, and in many ways, they have even surpassed them.
The drum beats and electronic tones return on this outing with those innocent yet eerie voices of children layered beneath or on top of the mix. The incorporation of the children is one of the main factors that set Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin's prior album apart from the rest of IBM releases On Geogaddi
, they happen to be used in abundance. A look at the track listing might initially surprise some as twenty-three cuts seems daunting and forewarns of a lengthy listen; however, the duo makes use of several interludes that cushion the main tracks of this album, and as a result, the album accomplishes things in little over an hour’s time. These interludes are all roughly a minute in length with the beefier cuts tending to lie somewhere within the five minute mark. This layout might seem pointless and trite to some; however, listening to Geogaddi
often has the effect of transversing a listener into a sonic journey of emotions and sounds. The interludes in turn happen to act as appropriate buffers and transition points from one rendezvous point to the next. What’s more, the little pieces are all quite varied and don't happen to be redundant in any sense of the word: “Beware The Friendly Stranger” lights a fire over circus-like tones; “Dandelion” sports a lecture about underwater volcanoes; “Over The Horizon Radar” is light and a delicate – a reprieve from the more frightful moments of Geogaddi
; and “Diving Station” sounds as if a snoring door is opening and closing to a room with a brooding piano. In total, the duo does a great job of effectively creating album filler that is in no way album filler
The heart and soul of the album lies in the more drawn-out and beefier cuts. “Gyroscope” uses a clip-clop mechanical sound that is joined later in the track by a child that repeatedly counts to ten. The effect is subtly eerie, invoking a sense that the listener is being slowly pursued by some kind of hunter. Some of these tracks recall material of the past as well. “Sunshine Recorder” is such a piece; a drum beat plays to the whim of a reverb effect – a distorted child happens to add his sentiments and regards every now and then as well. “The Beach At Redpoint” sounds as if it really was recorded next to an ocean. Background ambiance supplements the piece while a wha-wha effects plays over top of the mix for an odd yet relaxing composition.
Laced in the framework of this album is an unsettling amount of dark and occult influences. For starters, the album comes to roughly sixty-six minutes and six seconds. The number "666" is traditionally known as the “the mark of the beast” – a Christian apocalypse item – and plays a key part in many listeners believing that Boards of Canada are themselves Satanists. One doesn’t really have to look further than the album’s most frightening track, “The Devil is In the Details”, for a clarification on the duo’s intent. The song is frightening – a chewing noise is joined by a muffled and gummy-like voice as a cat meows in the background every now and then. The combination sounds ridiculous, but the feelings drawn from listeners are anything but. Similar religious and cult references can be heard and found in “Alpha and Omega” and in the Branch Davidian cultism of “1969”. If readers are interested, you can even play sections of this album backwards – ala The Beatles - for hidden electronic melodies and vocal messages. For example, the Satanism theme returns in “Alpha and Omega” as a man can be heard stating that: ”I’m a God-darned Satanist and if I wanted, I’d be in this business too.”
These secrets add to the mystery of the concept that makes up the framework of the album; indirectly, they even add to Geogaddi
’s listening appeal.
In conclusion, the end result of Geogaddi
is a dense and subtle listening experience. Listeners should approach the album with an open mind as what to expect from listening. Most tend to take something completely different from the album; some will find this album soothing and remorseful, and some will find it haunting and subtly evil. Animals and pets have even been reported to act strangely when this album is playing! Now isn’t that interesting? Whatever the case, most will come to agree that Boards of Canada’s Geogaddi
is an outstanding IBM release that stands up to Music Has A Right To Children
as a more than competent follow-up effort. In truth, it can even become a classic itself in its own subtle and eerie way.