Back in 1998, Warp Records released a stunning record by Boards
of Canada called Music Has the Right To Children.
On that record, Boards of Canada built complicated yet mellowish
electronica out of smooth keyboards and samples that were distorted
to a slow "fuzzy" state. In a sense, this album served as a
watershed, reintroducing IDM kids to the fact that sounds don't
have to turn out "harsh" after being computer-manipulated.
Since then, BoC have released one EP, the almost Godpeed-esquely
titled In a Beautiful Place Out In the Country,
in 2000. And now this, Geogaddi, their second
album and third release in about 5 years.
Five years is a long time to wait between albums, and one has
to wonder: how will their sound have changed? What new samples
and techniques and software will they be using now, and how
will it effect the end product?
The answer, interestingly enough, is: not too much has changed.
Place all three of their releases in a CD changer, hit "Random",
and sit back with a cold brew to listen. You won't really be
able to tell which release is playing at any one time. Their
body of work flows together pretty seamlessly.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Being a band with
a successful debut album is a risky proposition: if your next
album sounds very different you will lose some fans, and if
your next album does not sound different, critics will lambast
you for being "musically stagnant". It's a lose-lose situation.
Well, i am not going to lambast BoC. Here is where my chosen
role as Music Critic and my habitual role of Music Geek conflict:
how do i react to this album? Really -- that exercise with all
three discs and the changer that i recommended earlier -- i
tried that. It works really well.
Which brings me to this point: if you like what BoC sound like,
then Geogaddi will be a wecome addition to your
collection. If you were not impressed the last time around,
then you will not be impressed this time either.
Now, as to the critic side of me: are BoC "musically stagnant"?
Well, this album really isn't all that different from the first
one. Which has led some critics to rate Geogaddi
quite lowly, while Music Has the Right To Children
rated quite highly. My question here is, why? Since both discs
sound so much alike, how can you say that this one is not as
good? Sure, it's not as innovative, but 50 years from now when
the clone of Ken Burns does his PBS series on "The History Of
Electronica", which disc will be mentioned? Which one will future
critics say, "This is the best example of what Boards of Canada
The answer that the future critics might come to could very
well be that Geogaddi is the best example. There
are some lovely songs on this album, specifically the wonderfully
echoey The Devil Is In the Details. In fact, i really
have nothing to complain about with this album.
Now, to address those of you who have not listened to BoC before,
this is a fine introduction. It's great mellow electronica for
just sitting and listening. It's IDM without the harsh computer
And really, it's another fine release from Boards of Canada.