I’m hungry. I mean really hungry. Today’s the midpoint of a week-long cleanse my wife and I are doing. Hump day. I won’t get into the specifics of what I can eat or drink, the one biggie that’s disallowed is alcohol. Hence, no spirits this listen. Instead it’s a hot cup of peppermint tea & a handful of almonds. To make up for leanness I’m spinning a double LP today, Board of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Music.
I’ve loved BoC’s MHTRTM for a long times now. I’m pretty sure I owned the CD at one point, but it’s always been an mp3 album for me. When I returned to vinyl this album was part of the first wave of “must have” albums I started searching out. This first wave also awakened me to the reality of what 90’s vinyl goes for on eBay and other online sources. Shit’s expensive. So alas, you stay patient, hit whatever stores you can at home and abroad, record shows too, pick & choose your moments, and hopefully that patience pays off. This album was one of those pay offs. Not the most I paid for a used record, but hey…it is a double LP and fucking awesome.
BoC just released their first LP in quite a number of years, so I decided to run the vinyls thru the record cleaning machine last night and giver a listen.
Artist: Boards Of Canada
Title: Music Has The Right To Children
Label: Warp / Skam
Year: 2004 pressing (original released in 1998)
Catalog: warplp55 / skalp 1
What the fuck has music done to these poor kid’s faces? This cover is fucking spooky. Gives me the E-B-G-Bs. My wife can’t even lay eyes on it. I’m guessing it looks like a family vacation pic from the 70s. Mom and the kids are posing for the pic and dad (or is it a stranger?) has his back turned to the camera. Everyone’s face is blanked out. Dunno, just creepy. But still cool, and NM so I’m not complaining. This albums ever only been released in the UK from what I can see. The original 1998 included braille on the cover. This one does not, and everything points to it being a 2004 pressing. From a fidelity perspective I guess it shouldn’t matter much since this was mostly likely recorded in hi-rez digital. The LPs were pressed at UK’s defunct Damont Audio with no mastering credits in the deadwax. The 4 sides average VG+ with maybe one or two sides warranting another + in the grade.
Interestingly, the grooves on Side 1 when held to light exhibit a spiral graph-like pattern. Maybe this music is fucking math!
Side 1 – WARP LP 55 A2 DA MONT
Side 2 – WARP LP 55 B2 DA MONT
Side 3 – WARP LP 55 C2 DA MONT
Side 4 – WARP LP 55 D2 DA MONT
Pressing Plant: Damont Audio
Yup, you read that shit right…I’m drinking tea this evening. Twinning’s peppermint tea to be exact. Not the best peppermint infusion out there, but the shit’s cheaper than the tea in China. I prefer a loose leaf peppermint/spearmint blend myself but the tin’s empty (got to schedule a trip to the local tea monger). Twinning’s OK I guess, but not great. I do like their Lady Grey though. Also munched on a handful of almonds. I’m pretty sure these are of the US variety, not Mediterranean or Middle Eastern. I’m gonna say California? Whatever, I love almonds and I’ve been eating them by the truck load during this cleanse. Oh yeah…why are nuts so fucking expensive?
Side One’s first song is Wildlife Analysis, a spacey ditty with someone getting off on the keyboards setting the atmosphere. The song opens as a low passage and there’s a touch of surface noise heard during the run in and maybe the first 30 seconds of the song. It’s a short song that segues into the eeriness that is An Eagle In Your Mind. A break beat starts its thing a few rows behind my speakers and there’s a lot of other shit going on…stuttering static, bass, male voice murmurs and a high hat…all presented brilliantly. This LP’s going to be a fucking trip!
I LOVE YOU
I should be rattling the windows with this song, but everyone’s asleep but me. After a few minutes the song finally evolves into its second act, a down tempo ambiance. I stare stupidly straight ahead between my speakers and am loving the ride until The Color Of The Fire starts. Don’t know what to say about this one except it’s a syrupy interlude where I think a child is telling someone they love them. Trippy. To be honest I don’t know if that was the end of AEIYM or TCOTF. Anyways, a new tune opens up…is it Telephasic Workshop? Who knows unless you have the CD or staring at the bands on the record?
TW has that similar far away, stuttering sample. Simple but beguiling. A bit of lit crackle is noticeable at the end of the song and a few revolutions of ticks that continue into the start of Triangles And Rhombuses. Another ambient song that plays tricks with my mind before it’s rather short end. Then another song comes on…so I guess this is TAR, but it only lasts 15 seconds. Who knows? Who cares? Great opening side and except for a small bit of surface noise, great sounding too.
Sixtyten opens up the second side. The songs are already beginning to sound the same yet entirely different (themes emerge if you know what I mean). This song’s got a dominating bass break. A minute or so in a crazy bass permeates from my left speaker. Unfortunately it lacks the authority I remember during past listens on my solid state amp (I was warned by Ed…). A second break joins the fun; this song is a genuine craft. What I think is Turquoise Hexagon Sun opens as a stripped down keyboard solo (to be honest I don’t know if the solo is the end of Sixtyten or the beginning of THS). It’s definitely a new beat, so let’s call it THS…its fucking great, one of my favs on the album.
Five minutes pass without notice. Trippy. Kaini Industries is yet another keyboard intermezzo. It’s a good one, lasting about a minute before a non-squinter transition into Bocuma. It’s another great tune with inter-playing keyboards that seem to be distanced at two sides of a great hall. The lack of any break in the song allows some surface noise to come through. A fugue-like organ breaks the party in what I think is the start of Roygbiv. A hip hop break beat provides the rhythm with a wash of keyboard sounds swirling between my speakers. End of the first LP.
Rue The Whirl inaugurates the second LP with a break beat straight out of early 90s UK trip-hop. I liked those sounds back then and I’m enjoying this song immeasurably. I’m pretty sure there are birds chirping in the distance on this track. It’s one of the longer songs on the album and it keeps the same intoxicating beat throughout. Very easy to lose yourself in this one, as I do once or twice. A second act finally materializes, still with the chirping birds…and a few revolutions of clicks as the song ends. Masterpiece.
Aquarius is another crazy beat with what sounds like a funk sample coming out of my right speaker.
Yeah, That’s Right.
What a great fucking break, bass and what is now a very familiar ambient keyboard. I think the adults are saying “Orange” while the children giggle away. The album’s first true lyrics on the album are a woman counting to 70 or so before it becomes rubbish. This song was a beast. Olson is another keyboard intermission, albeit with a bit of growl to finish the side.
I grabbed a peach before dropping the needle on Side 4. I do a double take as I could have sworn I played this side already. Pete Standing Alone opens quietly, exposing some lite surface noise before the bass break interrupts. The soundscape is the most up-tempo of the album, with a static like ripping noise mixed front center. Such a simple sound, annoying by itself but contributing to the song as if an instrument…and once again I have no clue what the male vocals are trying to say.
Smokes Quantity…I’m thinking the name of this one must be an inside joke. I must confess songs are starting to blur together, sounding somewhat alike. Open The Light opens with a keyboard confessional with a lazy bass doing its thing back in the last row. Fantastic. The mood conveys the end of a night of partying while hanging out in the chill room. One Very Important Thought isn’t really as much a song as a public service announcement. Set over a last keyboard ditty, a woman expounds against censorship.
One thing about this album, it’s as if everyone is speaking in tongues. Although the record doesn’t have analog lushness it is beautifully mixed with layers of soundscapes in the front, middle and back rows. As mentioned in the listen, the album has themes running throughout with the inter-playing keyboards, references to ‘love’ and the one or two intermezzos per side. By itself, many samples on this record have annoying qualities, but they just mesh and fit perfectly within the finished product. Great mixing resulting in pure psychedelia. This is an album I’ll be spinning during house parties.
The Fine Print:
This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing. Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.