100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #18

Boards of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children
Back at my school we were often force-fed science videos from the 1980’s which featured the usual suspects: a gentle-voiced female narrator, a performance from some odd-ball children’s poet and some home-grown graphics that made a 1963 issue of the Beano look like the work of James Cameron’s Apple Mac. It’s the music that fires off the most memories for me though: a fuzzy, analogue wheeze of warm melodies over shivering textures. Boards of Canada take this formula and add clunky, chunky hip-hop-esque beats, out-of-place speech snippets and pinched and tweaked sound effects. The overall result takes some getting used to. I reckon it took me around ten or twelve listens for me to like this album as much as I do now, which is an awful lot, hence its position in this countdown. It goes from very different strength to very different strength each time: ‘Telephasic Workshop’ is a churning mistscape full of disjointed blips and juddering syllables that slowly builds and builds until you feel like everyone’s talking to you at once in a language you don’t understand; ‘Rue The Whirl’ is like an endless spinning tunnel; ‘Pete Standing Alone’ is a grinding, eerie, sorrowful beauty, icicles dangling from every note and beat. Those are some of the long ones, but the short ones are in no way fillers; in fact, some of them are the highlights. Case in point: ‘Roygbiv’ has one of the most shamelessly joyful melodies around, set against a mechanically clumsy beat and a child’s unintelligible gurgles. On paper it sounds basic, but somehow, after a few listens it becomes like a happy drug. Then there’s the occasional one-minute beatless soundscapes that function as addictive pieces on their own as well as stringing the album together.
Listen to: Roygbiv

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