EMP Research – Boards of Canada

Boards of Canada are a Scottish duo who produce largely lo-fi ambient electronica music. Their albums often consist of short, atmospheric vignettes amongst longer, more complex pieces. The longer pieces almost always have repetitive, hypnotic percussion which is complemented by more varied synths and sampling on top. Most often they are praised for their warm sound and generous atmosphere present in all their work. They exclusively make use of analogue equipment and tape machines to create their warm, nostalgic sound which was primarily appealing to people transitioning from analogue techniques in the later parts of the digital revolution. A lot of the earlier music they produced presented a very dark atmosphere, especially their 2002 album ‘Geogaddi’, but this slowly evolved into the brighter, but still often melancholy sound heard in ‘The Campfire Headphase’ (2005). Even though they could be seen as a late entry to the experimental electronic movement of the 80s and 90s, they were still very successful amongst younger audiences and continued to evoke that nostalgic sound well into the 21st century. The secrecy of the band members themselves is another aspect that adds to the idea of their music, they performed a handful of shows around 1999-2001 but have never publicly appeared since. Their albums have received widespread acclaim from music listeners and critics alike and they are often considered an important part of electronic music history.

This track, “’84 Pontiac Dream”, to me represents the collective result of the evolution of their sound. It immediately conveys rich, lush synths and atmospheric samples alongside solid percussion which combined serve to present this ‘evolved’ sound. Although the synth sounds undergo a few transitions, the percussion stays identical throughout the track embodying the ‘hypnotic’ characteristic.

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