geogaddi - 20th anniversary
Updated: May 12
geogaddi - 20th anniversary
Four years ago I did a little write up celebrating the 20th anniversary of Boards Of Canada's debut album, Music Has The Right To Children. Now it's the turn of their follow up album, Geogaddi, to turn 20 on the 18th February 2022. I've included a few relevant paragraphs from that write up here.
boards of canada
"I've never heard of them." There's probably a good reason for that. Despite four albums and a number of EPs, the brothers seem to avoid the spotlight, and very rarely post anything on social media - they don't even have a website. It's almost like they don't exist between albums, which is quite cool actually - producing a work of art then disappearing for years until the next one. Seems the completely at odds to the Kardashian lifestyle - famous for absolutely nothing, but always in the spotlight...
After almost four years of listening to Music Has The Right To Children, and being so different to anything else I'd hear before at the time, news of a second BoC album was very welcome. I pre-ordered the 3 disc vinyl release from Tempest Records in Birmingham, which remains sealed to this day. I thought the re-release a few years ago might devalue it, but the tri-fold sleeve of the re-release was almost half as thick, which was disappointing. I still bought two copies of that to play to death instead of the original...
I bought the CD as well of course, which was the medium I was using most at the time. I'd have been happy with more of MHTRTC, but Geogaddi was a different album. It was still 'out there' on it's own as something quite fresh, even more so this time as some tracks had a very non-conformist beat to them, such as Gyroscope, which has been used in the horror film Sinister - perfect!
Like Music Has The Right To Children, Geogaddi was so different to any other electronic albums I'd ever heard. Despite Geogaddi sounding quite electronic - not the squeaky clean, pin sharp, jagged edged, electronic pop of the 80s - more smooth, wavering synths, distorted beats, and dialogue samples. Having said that, Geogaddi is surprisingly analogue, using a number of acoustic instruments.
While its predecessor conjured up happy memories of a hazy bygone era, Geogaddi does not - there's a dark, sinister undercurrent to the whole album, which makes it quite a different experience. The general fuzzy, wavering sound is still there, almost like a reel to reel deck with some serious speed issues, but the whole outlook is far more downbeat. During production of the album, the brothers approach to the album changed, mainly due to the events of September 11th 2001.
While its predecessor conjured up happy memories of a hazy bygone era, Geogaddi does not. The general fuzzy, wavering sound is still there, almost like a reel to reel deck with some serious speed issues, but the whole outlook is far more downbeat. During production of the album, the brothers approach to the album changed, mainly due to the events of September 11th 2001.
The album has been accused of being the work of occultists due to Paganistic and satanic references. The track You Could Feel The Sky contains a sample of reversed speech apparently saying, "a God with horns" - and playing it backwards to hear that also makes the other sounds of the track sound like a crackling fire. The final track, Magic Window, which is complete silence, brings the album run time to 66 minutes and 6 seconds. Coincidentally, or not, the digital WAV file size for the album is 666MB...
Having said that, MHTRTC proved that what you hear isn't necessarily true. On that album, a woman is supposedly saying "orange", but listen closer and it's actually some reversed speech that sounds like orange. So what is really being said?
70 is a number used by the BoC boys quite frequently, whether you realise or not. Sixty-ten is mentioned on more than one album, which is another way of saying 70. Their studio is called Music70, and 70 is also "The Smallest Weird Number", a track on Geogaddi.
MHTRTC used a number of samples of children talking, and of children's TV programmes from the 70s. Whilst children play a smaller part in this album, the samples still come thick and fast. The colours, numbers, and shapes theme continues. "Julie And Candy" can be heard as a sample during the track of the same name, taken from George A. Romero's 1972 film, Season Of The Witch. Background noise samples come from the likes of Andrei Tarkovsy's 1975 film, The Mirror.
The link below is to a great site that covers BoC's albums in detail. There's pages for each album, with a tracklisting for each - each track links to a page which lists themes of the track and samples used, and sometimes a video or audio link to the original source for those samples. It's a really interesting read if you like the album, and there's so much info it's hard not to get engrossed...
On initial listening, Geogaddi (and Boards Of Canada's other albums) seems fairly basic and repetitive to those who have never encountered BoC before, but the treasure lies in repeated listening, with multiple layers of sound effects and dialogue revealing itself, almost producing a new experience every time. It's almost like the theory I have when people audition hi-fi - many people just listen to what is represented directly in front of them, and tend to ignore the 'bigger picture', like focusing on the characters in the foreground of a films scene and ignoring the background. Once you listen to a BoC album a few times and get comfortable listening to it, there's a while soundstage of information that is floating around waiting for you to discover it. Due to the nature of the music, even listening on different formats can unearth little details, as there's less emphasis on the bass with the vinyl record, bringing midrange based sounds more to the fore.
The opening track, Ready Lets Go, was used in Edgar Wright's 2017 movie, Baby Driver, and as mentioned previously, Gyroscope was used in the 2012 film Sinister. Beware The Friendly Stranger was used for the Salad Fingers cartoon series.
One day I hope to host a full playing of BoC's albums for those interested, and for those that are curious. Details will be released when something is finalised.
davidf @ the little audio company
the little audio company