When the reclusive Scottish duo Boards of Canada released its stunning full-length debut in 1998, Music Has the Right to Children, music fans were weeping in the streets. And understandably so. The pair, Marcus Eoin and Michael Sandison, emphasized atmosphere by combining wobbly analog synth loops with samples of strange, scratchy keyboards from educational films (the group gets its name from the National Film Board of Canada, which produced '70s-era documentaries). They also added crunchy, pseudo hip-hop beats with eerie, melancholy melodies and voices of children laughing and playing. This tranquil yet childlike vibe has something familiar yet frankly scary to it. Since the release of Children, frenzied fans have had to make do with just one four-song EP (2000's In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country). So when Geogaddi was finally released February 19, fans around the world could be heard firing up their bongs for what was sure to be a long week of vegging out.
Thankfully, Geogaddi lives up to its predecessors. It's more complex than the previous releases (especially the beat arrangements, which are tougher and more brittle) and it's spookier than Music while retaining the same sort of hazy retro/futuristic vibe. Scrolling through such tracks as "A is to B as B is to C," "Alpha and Omega" (which sounds like an instrumental version of what the Langley Schools Music Project could have done with electronics), and "You Could Feel the Sky," it seems as if this music is the duo's way of relating both the joy and the pain of elementary school. It's clear Boards favors themes about young children, numbers, and counting ("Music Is Math" and "The Smallest Weird Number" are just a couple examples). But what does it all mean? That's for your own introspective mind to figure out. Whatever it is, the Boards have a hit a nerve.
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