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"Play Twice Before Listening" is a 2002 interview by Koen Poolman. It originally appeared in OOR magazine.
This is an original text copied verbatim from the original source. Do not edit this text to correct errors or misspellings. Aside from added wikilinks, this text is exactly as it originally appeared.
Play Twice Before Listening
Hi Michael & Marcus, Where are you? How are youdoing?
under snow at the moment. Everything's cool. Geogaddi must be one of the most anticipated records of 2002. I guess this weekend saw the first string of reviews in themagazines."
What's the best and the worst criticism you got so far?
affect your work if you read the comments people make. Even positive comments can be damaging, I mean it's a lot easier for us to have fun writing music if we imaginenobody is listening to it."
What's with the secrecy surrounding the release of the album? a) we don't care about music business politics and promotion schedules b) we tried to keep the music from the net (and miraculously succeeded) c) we like a little mystery d) all above is true
Children was one of those seminal records that got better and more personal every time you listened to it. Its reputation seemed to grow every year. It's a modern classic. Geogaddi won't get the time and space to grow in people's subconsciousness, as MHTRTC did. People are taking in the album from day one, swallowing every track,hungry as they are."
you appear out of nowhere with your first album. After that, if people let their expectations grow too much, then it's inevitable that any subsequent records won't have the same effect, no matter what the music sounds like. Our music is never intended to do its work on just the first listen. Like Jack Dangers said, "play twicebefore listening".
How did you cope with this situation? Do you feel comfortable with the idea that a lot more people are gonna hear your music, giving it momentum, building up a hype rather than letting it "capture a nostalgic feeling buried somewhere in our mind", as one journalist so accurately wrote.
themselves, you know, so that it's something that feels like it belongs to them. If it was up to us there would be no promotion for our music at all. MHTRTC was a one-off moment of magic you can't possibly repeat - because of the aforementioned situation. Wasn't it? Is it fair to expect another album of such class? Best thing to do in a situation like this is to disappear for good...and let legend begin."
and recording our own music for about fifteen years before 'Music Has The Right...', and we're never going to stop creating music. We wouldn't have left it at just that album, just because that's the first record that became quite widely-known. The truth is that when we released that record we had no idea it would develop thekind of cult thing that it has."
You've been shying away from the media and are very fastidious when it comes to playing live. How important is Boards Of Canada, The Myth, to you?
interested in trying to become famous. There are too many artists out there who barely put any records out, yet they're on television and in magazines all the time. If that's what they want, that's fine, but I think that's the mentality of someone who came to the music world quite late in their life, but for us we've been doing what we do for years already, and we'd be doing it anyway even if nobody knew us. The music industry is full of people who are famous for being famous. We just want to create good music, and it doesn't matter to us to do allthe other nonsense.
There's a nostalgic feeling speaking through your music. The ultimate conclusion would be: perceiving your music as if it were nostalgia itself, originating from another time and space. Something out there. Not of today's world.
isn't attached to the current time. I hope our music could be enjoyed thirty years in the future without sounding like it came from an identifiable trend or a scene. We've always loved the sound of things that are a little sad and broken-sounding. I think that because we try to capture a damaged, eerie effect in our music, it ends up sounding nostalgic to some listeners. But you could be right because the intention is to make it sound like it's something strangely familiar but perpendicularto the real world, and in a way timeless."
You've recorded over 90 songs for Geogaddi. Only 22 - and the silent Magic Window - made it onto the album. At Cambersands you played an utterly brilliant new track that's not on the album.
When we play live we often play tracks that haven't been released. Sometimes those tracks will be used later, sometimes we will move on from that sound and leave thetrack behind."
How many hours of music went through the drain? Any chance of a quick follow-up to Geogaddi or, at least, an EP then?
after this one. As Marcus said, you make an album by compiling what fits together, and we're already puttingtogether a different record."
How did you make the selection between the 'full on'tracks and the strange intermezzo's and miniature melodies that slowly grow into little gems after a while? Is there an overall theme/direction that connects the tracks on the album?
strange musical, or an imagined movie. The theme with Geogaddi is a kind of confusion, as though you're going through a kind of 'Alice in Wonderland' adventure, but with adamaged mind. Those short tracks you mention, we write far more of those than the so-called "full on"tracks, and in a way, they are our own favorites."
These hidden treasures, little as they are, appear to be even bigger in numbers than on Music Has The Right To Children. Is seems like you're teasing us. It's hidden, so find it! True?
made up only with those short tracks. The ones on Geogaddi are the ones that make most sense in the overallflow."
At the time of the release of In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country, November 2000, you were said to have recorded 64 tracks from which 23 would be pared down to an album. Fifteen months later there's an album of 23 tracks - selected out of 90-plus. How does Geogaddi differ from the album you could have put together on and a half year ago?
been compiled into an album in 2000, I think it would have been pretty different. We go through phases, Geogaddi has a lot to do with what we were listening to in the last year. If we'd made it in 2000 it might have been more electronic, but over time we've tried to create something more fuzzy and organic. Every time we make a record we see it as an individual project, separate from what went before and what will happen afterwards.Likewise the next record will sound different."
The aim for Geogaddi is the perfect album, you once said. How perfect is Geogaddi? Is the devil really in the details? Is that why it took you another year to finish the album?
thing that we're always aiming at. For us it can mean something that's full of imperfection, because part of our aim has always been to destroy the sound in a beautiful way. It doesn't mean that we expect everyone would like it. I'm not sure that we will ever get there, to make the perfect record. But the whole point of makingmusic is at least to aim at your own idea of perfection."
Did In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country originate from the same sessions as the tracks on Geogaddi? Those were four 'full on'tracks. Put too many of these on an album and it will become a collection of songs, not an organic work of art as a whole, is that what you believe?
make something where all the tracks had a similar undercurrent while being diverse. The songs on IABPOITC could have ended up on Geogaddi, but at the time, we realized they worked well together so they became theirown EP."
Amo Bishop Roden was outstanding. Very minimal (Reich, Glass, La Monte Young), very ambient. Zoetrope had a similar vibe. It's a vibe that shines through on Geogaddi (esp. in You Could Feel The Sky), but not as much as I expected. It's not a big step from MHTRTC to Geogaddi really. Or is it?
musically. It has more to do with our own moods at the time of writing, and for example, what we have read or watched as an influence. That EP had it's own little theme. Because Geogaddi has a lot more tracks than an EP, it's easier to draw a connection between it and our last album, because we are the same band! Usually we're a lot more minimal than the songs on Geogaddi, but this time we wanted to do something with more facets, more detail and a kind of concentrated recipe of chaotic little melodies. It reflected a chaotic time in our personal lives. I guess we'll probably go back in a more minimal direction next. If you were to point out one difference, oneprogression from MHTRTC, what would it be?"
for outdoors on a cold, blue-skied day, while 'Geogaddi' is a record for some sort of trial-by-fire, a claustrophobic, twisting journey that takes you into some pretty dark experiences before you reach the open air again. It has a kind of narrative. That's why we ended it with 'Corsair', it's like the light at the end of thetunnel.
"It's darker than their previous work," Steve Beckett, head of Warp Records, said about In A Beautiful Place, back then. Does that count for Geogaddi as well?
creating Geogaddi involved much darker material, so Ithink this comes through in the album."
Minimal tracks like Amo Bishop Roden, Zoetrope and You Could Feel The Sky, are they pointing out a new direction for BOC, you think?
up what you're doing is to strip it down and go minimal, so we'll see. Though our next EP could just as easily be a collection of ROYGBIV-like songs. Every so often we like to stop ourselves and change direction, it's important to do that or you can become tired of your own music. Every record is like a reaction to the last one, so I guess at the moment we're feeling more like headingin a minimal direction, simplifying the sound again."
Does it bother you that one half of the IDM population is copying Autechre/Aphex and the other half is copying you, stealing your voice and style?
influencing others to create music. But I think everyone should find their own path. In a way, if people copy usclosely, it just keeps me on my toes."
How important is the folk influence that crops up in every review, like "the production aesthetics of late 60s and early 70s folk artists"?
used in Geogaddi, though not in obvious ways. We love artists like Joni Mitchell and The Incredible Stringband. There's a sort of purity of sound that they have, and Iguess we are striving for that ourselves"
A friend of mine (and Plaid's) draw my attention to the psychedelic folk of fellow Scotchmen The Incredible Stringband. Their late sixties albums The 5000 Spirits and The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, would that be the kind of stuff you're into? Ehm… the album covers of The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter and Music Has The Right To Children make a nice pair, that's for sure!
Someone like David Tibet/Current 93 has been tracing the pagan roots of folk music for years. Taking influences on a spiritual rather than a musical level, is that an angle you can relate to?
Hexagon Sun (studio). Chris H aka Christ (former bandmember). Redmoon nights. Hell Interface (sometimes used alias for BOC). The Devil Is In The Details. 66 minutes and 6 seconds. Artwork full of hexagrams. Supposedly subliminal messages… How Evil is BOC?
What does the hexagram symbolize for you? (Depending on your beliefs it is: a powerful tool to invoke Satan, a stand-by for magicians, witches and alchemists, and a pagan symbol of sexual union and reproduction, esp. of the sexually oriented rites and ceremonies of Baalism.)"
Are you putting a hex/curse on us?
My guess: it's about a deeply-rooted believe in Mother Earth, as displayed in the ancient traditions of paganism.
Call it folk, nostalgia, pagan - it all comes down to the rustic/rural settings of your music, doesn't it? The music being dreamt up and worked out In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country, the land we inherited from our ancestors and haven't yet ruined completely. Being isolated from The City, Modern Life and the delusion of Ongoing Progress. How does that show in your music, you think?
For years - since Kraftwerk actually - electronic music has been associated with science fiction, futurism, cyberspace, technology, a world of robots and machinery. Your music seem to be a reaction to all that: it's not shaping the future, but recapturing the past - with a child-like innocence. Is that a correct interpretation? How important is the child-like innocence in this.
What makes the past more interesting than the future to you?
"1969 in the sunshine"(from: 1969). What memory is that? Woodstock? A yellowed picture of your parents? A collective memory that fits your music?
It's these references that give your music a context. Or is there more to it than just context… a Message?
Music Is Math, you state. Is it true that you've been experimenting with the Fibonacci Sequence and the golden ratio (as they appear in nature) in your music? Did it get you anywhere?
What is The Smallest Weird Number?
Many plants show the Fibonacci Numbers in the arrangement of the leaves around their stem. It's these mysterious phenomenons, where nature and science meet, that seem to fascinate you more than anything. See: The Gyroscope, Sunshine Recorder, Magic Window, I Saw Drones and the vulcano and energy warnings on Geogaddi.
Would this be the kind of movies you're making with the Music 70 collective?
I know there's some Super 8 footage shown at your live gigs. Are you involved with the visual part yourselves? Is this an integral part of your work?
How many people are involved with Music 70?
Rumour has it that Warp bought the rights to the old Music 70 recordings. Is that true? Do you think they will do a 'Mbuki Mvuki/Trainer' in the near future?
What do think of Twoism being sold for up to 710 pounds on eBay? (Most offers coming from Edinburgh. It seems people want to cash in on their money before the old stuff is being rereleased.)
Any plans to come to Europe and Holland this Spring/Summer? Do you enjoy playing live? It seems such an awkward normal thing to do, so hopelessly un-mysterious, so not-BOC.
Also not-very-BOC: the number of chill-out compilations that got Aquarius and other tracks from MHTRTC on them. What do you make of that? Do you consider your music as being chill-out music? What is the best situation to listen to your music?
I know Mogwai tried to invite you for their All Tomorrow's Parties and other shows, but you've never answered their letters. Nobody seems to really know you. Not Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat, who's a also from Glasgow and a big fan. Mira Calix seems to be the only artist at Warp you keep in touch with - and Autechre, I guess. How real is the image of recluse loners, hidden in the Pentland Hills?
Last question: what does Geogaddi mean in your twisted language? What does it stand for?
Thanks a lot for your time! I hope it was worth it. Keep making such amazing records. Cheers, Koen Poolman/OOR
interview by by Koen Poolman, March 2002.
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