Since the teasing and then the announcement of a new Boards of Canada album over the past few months, my feelings of excitement and anticipation have been growing.
I came to Boards of Canada fairly late in their history, around the release of the album “the Campfire Headphase”, but the sound of this album had something unique with its sampled guitars and vast collection of different soundscapes it was unlike anything I had heard before. This convinced me to go through their back catalogue (the stuff that was easily accessible, anyway) and I slowly came to like all of it.
I find it hard to put my finger on why I like it. It’s hard to explain anything about Boards of Canada’s music in a way that makes it understandable. I can tell you their music is made from a collection of synths, naturalistic samples and depending on the album progressively more traditional instruments but I can’t explain how these fit together to create the music they do. Or why they are so distinctive, that a single note from their record store day sampler is enough to know they are responsible. The closest description I could put to how it makes me feel is like waking from a dream that you can’t quite remember. You get the feeling that something profound and maybe even sinister happened that caused you to wake, but the more you think about it the patchier it becomes, evading your thoughts and burying itself in your subconscious.
The music doesn’t seem to have a time or a place and almost feels like an alien language, a puzzle you don’t even understand the conventions to. In different emotional states the same song can make me feel uneasy, uplifted or relaxed. It seems to connect to a fundamental part of myself the same way as looking up at the stars or out on a scene of natural beauty can make you feel both inspired and insignificant.
I know this may sound like hyperbole; maybe others won’t get the same feelings I do. But for me Boards of Canada evoke these emotions unlike any other band. And it’s this uncertainty of their work that keeps me coming back. It makes you feel and think the way great philosophical questions do, it’s unsolvable and fragmented but it doesn’t stop you trying: