Boards of Canada
Original copies of 1995’s Twoism, Boards of Canada’s debut release, are so rare that one recently sold on E-bay for several hundred dollars. So this 35-minute mini-album, remastered for re-release on Warp records (home to fellow beatfreaks Aphex Twin and Squarepusher), will undoubtedly be a hot item for diehards who’ve followed them from their early days on the eclectic UK-based Skam label. But casual fans may feel that many of these early songs suffer from outdated technology and half-baked ideas in light of newer work: “Basefree” could be a working template for the recent Boards single, “In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country,” and many of the others feel like works-in-progress when compared to the fuller, more realized tracks on their latest album, Geogaddi, and their celebrated 1998 debut full-length, Music Has the Right to Children.
Nevertheless, the record’s eight instrumental tracks effectively carry listeners to the place where Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin’s lucid dreams first took flight. The Scottish duo’s grainy, sparse melodies have since been commissioned for film soundtracks and the band’s audience has grown with each successive release, but the blueprint remains–crackle-and-pop beats underpin airy dulcet tones while melody is implied rather than overstated. “Oirectine,” stunning in its simplicity, creates atmosphere with skipping beats, echo-laden keys and a menacing synth pattern, while “Seeya Later” traces a familiar groove out of basement drums and panoramic notes. “Melissa Juice” drips one-and-a-half minutes of infinite melancholy, then segues into the closing drone-laced funk and dark ambience of the two-part “Smokes Quantity.” It’s that unpredictable yet entirely accessible quality that places Sandison and Eoin’s eerie lullabies far ahead those of their experimental contemporaries.