Tuesday, April 03, 2018


Here's an essay by me for Pitchfork about Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children, which was released 20 years ago this month.  Including an interview with BoC brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin, it resituates the group and the album in a longer lineage of psychedelia. And it looks at this music's children, notably hauntology man dem.

On which subject, one testimonial that regrettably had to go for space reasons was from Jim Jupp of Ghost Box / Belbury Poly:

"We're always at pains to acknowledge the influence of BoC and particularly that album. They are without doubt direct ancestors of Ghost Box. It was like the first opening on to that whole world of the mis-remembered past that obsessed us. I'd say it was instrumental in turning us on to searching for the source of all that weird music from childhood TV, which leads us of course to library music.

"There's one sound for me in particular that always makes me think of BoC. It's  quite easy to set up on a fairly simple synth but nobody ever did pre-BoC. You have two oscillators both generating a simple sawtooth wave but the pitch of one is modulated very slightly and very very slowly. You get this kind of out of focus effect that is instantly reminiscent of National Film Board of Canada  / Sesame Street. Most people would  say that's because old 60s and 70s synths never had stable tuning, but I think its perhaps more due to the inconsistent playback speed on old broadcast video tape."   

Which reminds me I have been remiss in not pointing out the  loveliness of the latest release on GB, by a new signing to the label: 
The Invisible World of... Beautify Junkyards

Who share a song title with BoC

From Portugal, Beautify Junkyards definitely fit the "memoradelia" (coinage: Patrick McNally) concept, and I'd be surprised if a smidgeon of BoC DNA wasn't part of their make-up, along with traces of Broadcast

Everybody wants to...

The title comes, thankfully, not from Tears for Fears but - apparently - from a child's mumbled answer when asked about God: "he rules the world". To me "rue the whirl" suggests disoriented regret in the face of  Time's relentless remorseless onrush, the hectic ephemerality of being (aka Maya).... how each moment of the present topples 
instantly down a cliff face into an irretrievable past.  

But then there is the safety net of memory - increasingly threadbare and fragile, as the torrent of time wears away at it - but our sole defense against Loss.