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coverpic flag Scotland - Full Moon 112 - 11/16/05

Boards of Canada
The Campfire Headphase
Warp

It certainly looks like a Boards of Canada release: aquamarine hues, harking back to the beautiful cover of Music Has The Right To Children; a fold-out digipack, with dozens of blurred polaroids of people locked in a timewarp where everyone has '70s haircuts and uses Commodore computers. And I have to admit that if this album was playing in another room, I would guess that it was Boards of Canada. So what's the problem?

The problem is that Marcus and Michael have just gone and made an average album. True, there are some moments of sheer beauty: "Chromakey Dreamcoat", "Dayvan Cowboy" and "Slow This Bird Down" are pretty essential, and stand up alongside most of Boards' ouevre. But what's with the New Age bullshit on "Peacock Tail"? Or the leaden guitar pattern on "Hey Saturday Sun"?

It may well be that Boards have set themselves such a high benchmark with their previous releases that this was never going to make the grade. But I don't think it's as simple as that. It sounds to me like they've just made some dubious sonic choices on this album. By letting the general public in on their working methods in recent interviews, you can now hear the artificial sonic fuckery that they're applying to their sounds, and the veneer is gone. Whereas the whole of MHTRTC was imbued with an utterly impenetrable mystique as a result of the genius of its chemistry, Campfire Headphase almost sounds like another electronica act trying to sound like Boards. The magic has gone, and it hurts me to say so.

Maybe this is a blip. Maybe Boards have mellowed out and are exploring a more MOR palette of sounds. But it just sucks to think that they listened back to this album and decided "Yep, this is ready to put out there." It's just not good enough.

Copyright © 2005 Tim Clarke e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Boards of Canada articles/reviews: Geogaddi, Geogaddi, In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country.

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