|issue||Vol. 2 No. 13 (April/May 1998)|
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Boards of Canada are breathing new life into the experimental end of electronic music. And you can whistle their tunes...
"Simplicity is very important to us," offers Michael Sandison one half of Scottish electronic pairing Boards Of Canada. "It's easier to affect people emotionally if you keep things simple. Obviously there's a lot of great music in the world that's complex but as far as we're concerned the important thing is that you can whistle our tunes."
Boards Of Canada are fixed on melody and emotion in music. It's a rare obsession in the world of British electronica but it gives their sound a uniqueness, a ghostly sense of yearning, and a depth of emotion that sets them far outside the pack. Music Has the Right to Children, their debut album, is the product of their fixation; a melancholy mix of rhythms and melodies revealing more shading and character with every listen.
"If it doesn't affect me emotionally it doesn't interest me", explains fellow Boarder Marcus Eoin. "I think a lot of it is trying to capture a nostalgic feeling buried somewhere in our minds. We are nostalgic people trying to get back moments from our pasts."
All of this might lead you to think that's it's an 'oh so serious' album which isn't true. It's simply refreshing to see such a human approach behind the employment of modern musical technology.
"Music for commercials, documentary soundtracks and children's TV themes," continues Michael. "The spaces in between the music you're supposed to listen to. That's where our interest lies. These melodies might only last a second at the end of a TV programme but they are quietly more important to the public psyche than most pop music."
The first record Boards Of Canada released was the self financed and limited hardly any Twoism EP. They sent the record to Autechre's Sean Booth who phoned back the very next day suggesting they mail a copy to Andy Maddock's Manchester based SKAM label. (Autechre release records on SKAM with various other bods under the Gescom guise). The result was Hi Scores, a 12" that brought the pair to a wider audience and paved the way for a follow up 7" Aquarius and now a full length album jointly put out by Warp and SKAM.
It would seem that, with the help of Boards of Canada, Britain's homegrown electronica music scene might finally step out from the shadow of the machine to explore the more emotional and human avenues.
Strange to think something so simple could be so exciting.