Boards of Canada are two Scottish techno-hippies who make the most beautifully melancholic and psychedelic fall-color funk ever. Theirs is a kind of damaged sound, like old scratchy sound track LPs or 8-track tapes warbly from too much dashboard sun. But where 1999s Music Has the Right to Children was more languid than luminous, and 2002s Geodaddi was more cynical than sinister, The Campfire Headphases chief asset is its overtone of sincerity. The warbly samples are still there, mostly as segues, a kind of reminder that the best music evokes memories and makes a sound track for new ones. Precious guitar shapes coil between acid-washed strings, like My Bloody Valentine and Portishead collaborating on long-overdue follow-ups, as on the perfectly titled, Hey Saturday Sun. In other artists hands this kind of downtempo becomes sonic wallpaper, but here BOC make perfectly crafted comedown mandalas. What makes this monumental in its wistful way is how much it captures the pop zeitgeist that more known artists (see Moby and Thievery Corporation, for starters) have attempted this year, with mixed results. In their own quiet way, BOC have become equal parts Aphex Twin and Sigur Ros, fearless electronic explorers capable of gentle, patient and quietly indulgent beauty.
Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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