Nowhere Sound instantly perked my ears up when I heard it on Daniel Avery’s reccord “Together In Static”.
The track channels elements of on of my favourite electronic acts Boards of Canada with its warbling synth sounds and laid back electronic percussion strolling allong in the background. It’s a style I have loved for decades now and Daniel Avery proves that it is still as enjoyable and relevent now as it was all those years ago.
There is also some really intersting use of samplerate reduction as an effect on some of the synths throughout the track that gives them this crystaline fragility. Its a technique that is very easy to overdo but its masterfully blended here. An exemplarory piece of one of my favourite styles of electronic music.
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.
Boards Of Canada have always being and enegmatic presence in the music industry. Staying secretive and creating music that is unique and has become iconic for fans of the fringe elements of electronic music. It’s a sound that is so distinguishable that any listener of their work will recognise it within seconds when its frequently used in films and television, even if its is a track they haven’t heard before. No mean feat for any artist.
Peacock Tail blends the mix of field recordings, sampling and instrumentation well. With large synth pads and heavy use of delay and reverb to create a cavernous sound that is then cut through with precise and dry drums. The song slowly shifts through different instrumentation and iterations of the melody, effortlessly creating a sound that sits somewhere between the the foreground and background. It’s this style that captivates fans of their work. Crating a pallet of tonality that is constantly shifting yet rarely intruding, instead reflecting the thoughts of the listener onto it.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Boards of Canada recently and have talked about their quality in previous posts. Fueled by the newest album tomorrows harvest I’ve been working my way through their extensive back catalogue and came across this little gem.
It stands out from their other work with the heavy use of a Colonel Abrams vocal sample that’s been pitched down to create a slower and darker track to the original. Blend this with Boards of Canada’s unique sound design and your on to a winner:
I’m bending the rules of TOTW for this post but the idea was to bring to your attention the things I have been listening to. Although you can’t call this a piece of music I have been fascinated by numbers stations since I heard about them a few months ago. The most famous of which is probably the Lincolnshire Poacher.
For those who don’t know, numbers stations are shortwave radio transmissions which can be picked up by anyone with a shortwave radio. They all usually start with a basic looping tune before going into a code. This can be morse code, a fluctuating signal or as in the Lincolnshire Poacher’s case is a collection of numbers.
Although no one has admitted to these broadcasts the fact that they would require large transmitters with a lot of power, have been running reportedly since the end of the second world war and are illegally using the bandwidth points towards a National origin. People believe these are codes from different nationalities secret services, to secret agents in other countries.
Whether you believe the speculation or not there is something about these broadcasts that manage to disturb and intrigue. Influencing artists Like Bords of Canada and Wilco who have used samples of numbers stations recordings in their own music.
For many years people have been cataloguing and recording the broadcasts and are available as The Conet Project either as CD’s or as free MP3 downloads. If you listen to and find the Lincolnshire Poacher as interesting as I do there is plenty more to listen to and read about online:
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:
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