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Boards of Canada – Geogaddi

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Warp Records, 2002

Rarely does one scope around a bin of cheap CDs and find one that is actually on one’s want list.  Boards of Canada’s “Geogaddi” had been a target of mine ever since it had been named one of the better CDs of the last decade.  I had read articles referencing it and heard a few people speaking high praise for it.  There was no way it was going to sit there collecting dust.

Boards of Canada are a Scottish duo with guys named Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin.  They’ve only put out three full records, including this one, but their adeptness at sweeping, soothing compositions is quite impressive.  “Geogaddi”, when listened from beginning to end, might send you into a state of rolling your eyes into your head.  Disclaimer:  If you listen to this record based on my review, I am in no way responsible for if your eyes do not roll back to their usual forward position.  Instead, please accept my apologies for the likelihood that you now resemble a zombie.

The record consists of the interweaving of transitional tracks (a minute or so) and longer players.  Most of the shorter tunes are curious blips, though the pretty tones used in “Dandelion” and “In the Annexe” could have used a few more minutes.  Given that a few of the lengthier tracks have no problem with being repetitive, it’s curious as to the reasons why the duo cut these two tracks short.  Maybe I’ll have to go read around somewhere.  I did have to go look up the situation with “Magic Window” and its nearly two minutes of silence.  Was this a message from the band that the best calming sound is silence?  Or is there an importance to the album run time of 1:05:54?  Ah, who knows.  I’m just a writer.

I am glad that when Boards of Canada go long, they go for about four minutes or more.  “Alpha and Omega” uses the same notes progression for most of its seven minutes, but the infusing of dark static, vocal utterances, and fades makes the whole thing a mesmerizing experience.  One could very easily put one’s head back in a chair and phaaaase ooooutt.  “Sunshine Recorder” sounds like something Rjd2 might appreciate due its introduction that includes a sort of smeared electronic note and an active drum beat.  Like “Alpha and Omega”, it is a fine tune to listen to when calming down is necessary.  A song that feels like it is twice its three minute length, “Corsair” just makes one feel lobotomized.  It’s just so serene.

After listening to the whole disc a few times, my favorite track is one of the earliest.  “Music is Math” is not only a true statement in my mind, but it also epitomizes the beauty that Boards of Canada are capable of constructing.  The light, warm tones float above each other while an unobtrusive back beat provides harder texture just works so well.  Regardless of what I think about the rest of the album’s enjoyment level, this song makes it all worth it for me.

Boards of Canada have the requisite website to seek various information, but I recommend the group’s Youtube channel for listening.

As time has gone on, I have grown a deeper appreciation for electronic music.  The boom and crash that is rock n roll is still a great thing to have at the ready, but sometimes one just needs to concentrate or cut back on the distraction of vocals.  Boards of Canada excel in this type of electronica and will always be worth listening to when they put out new material.  The duo’s last record, “The Campfire Headphase”, came out in 2005 and though six years is about the maximum line where a band is either about to put out a new one, I’m worried.  The News section of their website hasn’t been updated since 2006!  Uh oh.

It’s possible that Sandison and Eoin are working on side projects, family, etc.  Until an official announcement of the band’s existence comes out, people should go out and listen to some Boards of Canada.

Stereolab – Dots and Loops

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Elektra Records, 1997dotsLoops

Alright, alright I’m cheating.  This blog is dedicated to discs that I find (and usually buy) in dollar bins and I usually prefer to write about the more obscure and random stuff.  However, I can’t resist writing about a disc I found from an artist I’ve always enjoyed and really didn’t take too much of a risk on picking up.  Stereolab has been a long-term casual favorite of mine, which means they’re a group that I enjoy listening to but I don’t tend to seek them out.  Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m not one to listen to jazzy pop music all that often (which I should probably reconsider).  The other part is exactly what might be considered a fault with this record.

Stereolab are very predictable.  Aside from a few tracks here and there, for the most part, you know what you are getting with a Stereolab album.  Warm, comforting swirls of keyboard and guitar compositions draped with the pleasantly smooth vocals of Laetitia Sadler and the effective backup additions of the late Mary Hansen.  Every song is very full and animated, yet subtle and unimposing as you get swept up with the complexity of the pop rhythms.  I am speaking about pretty much every Stereolab record they’ve produced that I’ve come across, and though it doesn’t help much to discern whether this record is better than any others, I have to say that I couldn’t find a true dud anywhere within these ten tracks.  The group will slow things down, or they’ll add a peculiar effect in once in awhile, but it’s nothing that would make most want to skip ahead.  I still like “Miss Modular” very much, which is likely due to its over-familiarity as the Stereolab song even if it is consistent with much of Stereolab’s other output.  However, if you haven’t heard it yet then you must do so now.

This is why I don’t write reviews on bands whose material I feel that I know rather well. I will just sit here and glow about them without commenting on how repetitive they might sound or that they could be losing a little interest with age.  They are not on everyone’s list of favorite or enjoyable bands, yet I think Stereolab can’t foul up too much on anything they put out.  Even their more recent records of “Chemical Chords” and “Fab Four Suture” still have the fine Stereolab grooves that most have come to know them for.  I don’t think you will find many Stereolab records in dollar bins, but if you do, pick it up and make sure it finds a good set of ears to listen to it.  Stereolab is a wonderful band.

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