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Boards Of Canada: Music Has The Right To Children


Boards Of Canada

Album: Music Has The Right To Children
Label: Warp/Matador

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Electronica may be a useful marketing term, but the category misleadingly lumps together virtually anything with a sample or a loop. The failing of that vague moniker is that it makes no distinction between post-ambient-techno programmed music and, say, Madonna, The Prodigy, or Nine Inch Nails. Consequently, anything that even remotely blips or bloops automatically constitutes electronica. Groups like Autechre, then, may best be described as simply electronic. The brainchild of Sean Booth and Rob Brown, Autechre has, over the course of four albums, charted new musical territory filled with dense digital noise, complex rhythmic collages, and nearly three-dimensional soundscapes. The group's trademark cacophony straddles the line between sheer experimental composition and the subliminal melodies of ambient music, sounding at times beyond the reaches of mere programmers—like a sentient digital beast unleashed by some non-human hand. After such remarkable albums as Tri Repetae and Chiastic Slide, though, Autechre's eponymous fifth disc is a bit of a letdown. The music is more hectic than usual, and the fragmented beats slightly less organic, almost as abstract as a bag of ball-bearings spilled out onto the floor. Booth and Brown's carefully arranged entropy sounds a tad conventional (for Autechre) on this album, as if the pair blew a gasket trying to find new ways to blow listeners' minds. As always, the results of Autechre's studio alchemy is intriguing, and the subtle tempo and rhythm changes astounding, but this album is rarely more than the sound of two wildly talented tech-heads running in place. Autechre's U.K. labelmate Boards Of Canada, the musical pairing of Scottish studio mavens Marcus Eoin and Mike Sandison, plays similarly post-ambient electronic music, but the duo's touches of hip-hop and occasional playfulness veer closer to Autechre's alter-ego Gescom. Boards Of Canada also pays a bit more attention to melody, albeit with the same outer-space sense of songcraft that permeates Aphex Twin's haunting Selected Ambient Works Vol. II. For those interested in what the electronic underground is up to, Music Has The Right To Children is a brilliant, frequently beautiful place to start digging.