Wednesday, March 13, 2002


Posted By on Wed, Mar 13, 2002 at 12:00 AM

After their debut with 1998’s sleeper hit, Music Has the Right to Children, the hype, it seemed, nearly outweighed Boards of Canada’s achievement. Combining the cloudy analog ambience of Tangerine Dream and Brian Eno with the detailed, crunchy trip-hop beats of Tri Repetae-era Autechre, Boards of Canada found their niche in the world of downtempo electronica with an album that made smarmy nostalgia palatable despite its sincerity. Geogaddi is hardly a departure from the BOC formula of sample collages and grainy analog synth melodies over crisp beats; rather, it’s a refined version of the group’s sound, with darker hooks and more realistic, more convoluted moods.

Still a little too slaphappy with their samplers, tripped-out Orb-meets-Eno vignettes weave through songs that only sometimes stand on their own. On the minute-long “Dandelion,” for instance, Leslie Nielsen is found narrating a children’s educational film on deep sea diving — a cliché mastered by The Orb, that BOC is very guilty of perpetuating. Even when they’re fitting or cute, these samples come across as a cheap shot. That said, more worthy instrumental interludes (“In the Annex,” “I Saw Drones”) round the album into a singular experience.

On Geogaddi, BOC has toned down the cheese. Gone are the obvious Music Has the Right crowd-pleasers like “Roygbiv.” Geogaddi’s standout moments (“Music is Math,” “1969,” “Alpha and Omega” and “Dawn Chorus”) aren’t as flashy and leave detached melodies to drone their way into our collective cerebral cortex. The disc is unassuming psychedelic soul that sounds as though it were made on the second day of a designer drug binge, grasping meaning and beauty through a haze of emotional fallout and sleep deprivation.

E-mail Robert Gorell at [email protected].


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