Review Summary: “We were picturing this character losing his mind at the campfire and compressing weeks of events into a few hours, in that time-stretching way that acid fucks with your perception.”
I think it’s fair to say that as human beings, we like to take journeys. We like to go places. Ever since Odysseus sailed home, ever since humans could look up at the stars and do whatever they did, we’ve liked to go places.
Some people say that music can take you places. To be honest with you, I mostly listen to music as a passive observer, maybe tapping my foot, maybe humming along, maybe closing my eyes and letting a tear roll down my cheek: but I’ve never involved, it’s always music presented to me. I’ve never been immersed in an album. I’ve never felt invaded by an album before, I’ve never been taken somewhere by music, I’ve never been taken on a journey through sound before.
I lied. You could have seen that coming from a mile away. But I was trying to make a point.
The Campfire Headphase does that. And it’s one of three albums that have, other than classical works. The other two are Selected Ambient Works by Richard James, or Aphex Twin, and Music Has The Right to Children by Boards of Canada. I’ve never heard records so goddamned invasive in my life, and sometimes these albums take me places I don’t like to go.
Boards of Canada thrives on the subtle, thrives on the the signature sort of acidwashed analogue sound that is reminiscent of the 70’s and brings to mind a fearful kind of nostalgia. Listening to Boards of Canada like you are looking back at the memories of the past and seeing things that scared you, looking back at childhood in a LSD fueled vision of the forgotten past, and is an intensely layered kind of music that shakes your headphones and takes your mind by the hold; it’s one of those albums where each song bleeds into the next, where transitions mean nothing. If we look at it in the same vein as a journey, we’re looking at the memories of the past, moving images as we look through a passenger window of a spaceship in the atmosphere. This feeling comes to the forefront in Dayvan Cowboy, where the guitar riffs blend with the atmosphere and you become transcendent of the world, thinking of the cosmos or whatever you think about in the fearful stupor of cosmic nostalgia.
It is true that Campfire makes use of acoustic guitars, but think about the quote in the beginning; this album is about loosing your mind, taking a journey transcendent of time and perception. I think that makes the use of acoustic guitars not in the least bit conventional. It doesn’t add normality to the situation, and if it does, it all traces back to the journey. It is normal to go on journeys. And in the last track, Farewell Fire, everything ends in some kind of sweeping blur, as if the tracks that came before it are to be remembered only when listened too, like you can’t recall a Campfire Track when the music isn’t playing. Everything blends together to make the only moment now. And it’s a beautiful, unsettling thing to not remember where you came from.