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An equally imagination-filled follow-up to the acclaimed "Music has the Right to Children" from the masters of electronic subtlety. Instead of smacking you in the ears with slabs of acid, as certain other Warp artists are apt to do, Boards of Canada craft ingenious new sounds that blend with the landscape, with an organic, human touch. Again their longer pieces are linked by short minute-long splashes of single-idea sounds. Disembodied voices whirl around the undulating synthesiser pads and caresses of beats, and it never sounds mechanical. Counting and mathematics is a big theme here, as it was on their debut, but they seem to appreciate numbers as beautiful in themselves, rather than the way they are used in mathematics. In the same way that musical instruments themselves are beautiful, as well as the sounds they make.
From "Music is Math" through "The Smallest Weird Number" to "Corsair", those twisting soft pads anchor the album. It's not content to meander pastorally, and "Gyroscope" ups the energy with splurts of rolling percussion, like one of Susumu Yokota's soundscapes. Just as delicately Oriental is "Alpha and Omega", where they perfect their naturalistic feel with exotic flutes winding around the mix. "1969" is a worthy successor to "Aquarius" as the album's most infectious slab of colourful grinning downbeat. Its explorations can can verge towards scariness, as the distorted Sesame Street voiceover on "A is to B as B is to C" is morphed into oblivion, but gentle Eno-like ambiences on "Over the Horizon Radar" restore the prettiness. "Dawn Chorus" uses distortion and flat vocals to distinctively good effect, giving a windswept, relaxed feel.
I seem to be the only person to actually prefer this over "Music has the Right to Children". It's a close-run thing, but "Geogaddi" pushes the limits that little bit further.
May 31, 2005