Boards of Canada is the duo Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin, and is based on the Northern Coast of Scotland. They first burst onto the music scene in 1996 releasing an 8-track promotional EP entitled Twoism
, which impressed experimental electronica label Scam. This EP prompted Scam to sign the band, and the band made their first release on the label in 1996, with an EP entitled Hi Scores
The sound on the EP was a mix of synth melodies, and hip-hop and electronic references, and drew comparisons to artists like Autechre. In late 1996, the band began touring with groups Autechre and Plaid. They also released tracks on several compilation albums. In 1998, the band released their first full length album in Music Has the Right to Children
. The album was instantly hailed by critics, and though it doesn't break new ground for style (hip-hop beats and electro-synth is a common combo in the genre), it does set the bar for electronica and IDM.
Marcus Eion - Producer
Michael Sandison - Producer
This is an album best experienced as a whole. There are various different moods and audio effects that engulf the listener. As a result, I highly recommend listening to Music Has the Right to Children
The album opener "Wildlife Analysis" sets a light and airy mood, but this lasts for just a minute or so before "An Eagle in Your Mind" takes over. The synths move back and forth from sides to side before the heavy dubs and scratching propel the song forward. The swirling synths now take a backstage to the wonderful percussion. The seemingly random voice samples aren't random at all, but rather carefully placed to amazing effect.
"The Color of Fire" is a heavily reverbed sample of a child speaking like a child does. It is really amazing what they are able to do with this, making a beautiful work of art out of a child making out the words "I love you". This leads us into "Telephasic Workshop", a dub masterpiece. "Triangles and Rhombuses" fades in and fades immediately back out before setting the light mood for the lovely "Sixtyten" which implements a heavy bass drum and some spacey synths which create a bit of a darker mood, but near the end, another song begins with no bass drum, but rather just a keyboard melody that lasts for just a matter of seconds it seems.
"Turquoise Hexagon Sun" is the highlight of the album for me. I have heard it so many times, and yet it is still difficult to describe what makes it so great. There is a hip-hop beat in the background, faint voices talking, and a gorgeous keyboard melody laid over the top which altogether makes for a marvelous song. The next couple songs "Kaini Industries", and "Bocuma" are just short experimenting with melodies, with no percussion or bass line or anything, but they are still pure beauty.
"Roygbiv" begins sounding like a dark song, but near the two minute mark, there is a sample of a child, and a bright and shimmering melody takes over the song and creates this wonderful vibe that is carried throughout the second half of the song. This is one of the highlights. "Rue the Whirl" has this start-stop-start-stop pace thing to it that is just addictive, it is repetitive for sure, but it just works so well with this song, as they add different things to the focal point for the first 4 minutes, then in the later part of the song, a different hip-hop beat takes over with some scratching, which is pretty nice.
"Aquarius" begins with a shimmering spacey synth, which is later joined by metalic or tinny sounding drums. The samling of children is again used in this song, and works wonderfully. The childish feel that is gained from these samples is one of the things that makes this such an amazing piece. "Olsen" is another short piece with just a nice melody and no percussion. Boards of Canada break up the album nicely so that there are nice full songs, seperated by simple comedown type melodies.
"Pete Standing Alone" begins as a slow soft song, but after a little while, the heavy bass drum comes in and the song goes off on several crazy tangents with insane dubbing and scratching. "Smokes Quantity" has a weird droning synth with a standard hip-hop beat, and some nice twinkling noises placed over the top. If there is one lull in the album it is with this song. "Open the Light" is one of my favorites on the album. It has a very magical feel to it as it builds with it's twinkling noises, soft synth strings, and slow, paced bass drum. This is just an amazing song for me.
"One Very Important Thought" was the original album closer, and it is just a minure long, and there is a sample of a woman telling us the album is over, but even here the music is just perfect. The message that she gives is rather interesting as well. If you have the reissue, as I do, there is a bonus track called "Happy Cycling" as well. It has a nice hip-hop feel to it, and doesn't have the spacey feel that is on much of the album until the last minute or so when it really becomes magical. This is one really special album that only comes around once in a long while.
This is such a great album that I am going to give it a perfect score. It really sets the standard for this type of music, and when listening to the album, it requires all your attention, and can take you to another world, it only for 70 minutes or so.