Singles going steady 13: Boards of Canada

Thursday, 8 November 2007, 17:11 | Category : Uncategorized
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Today’s dip into the archives comes up with some real gems – three CD EPs from reclusive Scottish electronic artists Boards of Canada. This is a band whose obvious musical appeal is only augmented by the air of mystery that surrounds them. The fact that they’ve hardly ever done any interviews, and only performed live about two or three times in the past ten years merely serves to keep the dedicated fans’ fascination levels high, and fuels the speculation about the supposed mystical elements to their work.

So much so that there is a fansite that explores, in minute detail, the possible hidden meaning behind track names and even track lengths, delving into numerology, paganism and quotes from the Bible. The CD EPs that I have are their first commercial release Hi Scores (from 1996, though mine is the 1999 reissue), the classic 2000 EP In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country, and from last year (I was buying CD singles as recently as last June) the Trans Canada Highway EP. These are all open to mystical speculation it seems.

So we discover that on Hi Scores, there is reference to maths equations and the significance of the Braille cover is discussed (it spells out Boards of Canada, ordinarily enough). In a Beautiful Place… is more interesting, with its apparent references to David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. The speculation seemed to stop after the 2002 album Geogaddi, perhaps exhausted by the sheer amount of potential mystical connections to that record, but maybe more likely because the guy running the site stopped doing it before the release of The Campfire Headphase in 2005. So that means that the Trans Canada Highway is weird connection-free. For now at least.

All this is an amusing diversion really, and I wonder how much Marcus and Michael Sandison, the brothers who are Boards of Canada, contribute to setting up these flights of imagination among their fans, and retire, chucking from the safe distance of their Pentland Hills hideout. Who knows? All that I really care about is the quality of the music. Some have called it pastoral electronica, and that may be a good description. It’s just beautiful electronic music that sounds familiar yet always distinctively Board of Canada. And it’s not just the title of the EP that suggests a beautiful place in the country. The music does it too.

From Hi Scores

Download: Boards of Canada – Turquoise Hexagon Sun

From In a Beautiful Place out in the Country

Download: Boards of Canada – In a Beautiful Place out in the Country

From Trans Canada Highway

Download: Board of Canada – Skyliner

Buy Board of Canada stuff from Warpmart, or Hi Scores from Rough Trade.

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