Twenty years ago this month, Boards of Canada released their debut album Music Has The Right to Children. Amidst the wave of popular experimental electronic music that washed its way through the mid to late 90s, it stood up as a high watermark. Its sounds and styles have been hugely influential to many acts, and yet its aesthetics are so distinct that they’ve become synonymous with BOC.
In structure, it fallows a lot of the formulas in the creation of electronic music. Its dreamlike sound design of warbling synths and lo-fi samples create a world that osculates between the sweet and the sinister. A sound that’s laid back but iconic, giving electronics a softer more organic blanket that’s usually missing from his harsher raw tones.
The track Pete Standing Alone, from their debut album, features all of the elements mentioned. It opens with this wide synth melody that detunes and attenuates with a slow tremolo before the low bitrate drums come in with complex programming. This basis of the track is then developed with further lo-fi samples and atmospheric synths to create shimmering world that lies somewhere between reality and the subconscious. It’s a sound they pioneered that still holds its own today; both in their older works and the new ones they continue to create sporadically over the past two decades.