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Boards of Canada: The Campfire Headphase

Boards of Canada: The Campfire Headphase

Release Date:2005
Genre:Psychedelia/Space Rock

By Michael Crumsho | Posted 12/7/2005

Every few years, secretive Scottish duo Boards of Canada emerge with another batch of bucolic beats and gauzy melodies. Yet their time-lapse audio photography continues to move from evocative to formulaic. Whereas the blurred and carbon-dateless synth swells on BOC’s ’98 debut, Music Has the Right to Children, were powerful in their simplicity, a similar approach on The Campfire Headphase sounds less like the work of true innovators and more like the followers they have inspired.

There is a slight deviation from their norm here, however, as untreated guitars are left free to roam Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin’s dappled terrain. Tracks like “Dayvan Cowboy,” with its reverb-laden licks and tumbling percussion, immediately stand out. Sadly, this urgency doesn’t last long, instead giving way to more nonconfrontational kicks and hazy keys. The duo’s airtight, shadowy constructions—with their Branch Davidian cult nods and back-masked samples—were initially inviting because their creators were so unforthcoming. Now, even with the added strings, The Campfire Headphase is almost too familiar. Those acquainted with the duo’s laconic downtempo have already visited this campground. One wonders how long they’ll stick around.

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