The long wait for Boards of Canada

The BOC brothers

It’s around ten years since I first noticed the name “Boards of Canada” creeping in to designers’ discussion forums (ahh discussion forums, what a quaint idea). It seemed that BoC was the soundtrack of choice for any designer worth their salt in the heady days of the dot com boom.

I had dabbled with electronica before, but BoC opened my eyes and ears to a whole new world of avant garde IDM. Strange thing to say now, as BoC are so often seen as almost mainstream.

There has been very little since, with the exception perhaps of Proem and Ulrich Schnauss, that has made such an impression on me, left me feeling that I was listening to something new, fresh and unfettered. The vocal samples, the eerie atmospherics evoking vague childhood memories, all combined with the duo’s mischievous marketing giving them the aura more of a cult than a musical act, made listening to their music a mesmerising experience.

Within 18 months of discovering them, ‘Geogaddi‘ was released. I remember clearly wandering around Paris as part of a professional trip with IDI Ireland, listening to Geogaddi on a cassette Walkman, taking in its strange aural landscapes in the equally strange (to me) environment of the French capital.

But something went wrong. ‘The Campfire Headphase‘ took 3.5 years to emerge after Geogaddi. Apart from an EP in June 2006, BoC fans have now been waiting over 5 years for new material to arrive from Hexagon Sun. Not quite latter day Pink Floyd standards, but a huge period of anyone’s life.

I’m sure Marcus and Eoin are happily making a living from their work, but music consumption has moved on significantly in those 5 years. There was a time when I would have bought new BoC material without hesitation. Nowadays, I may just sample what is on offer before parting with hard-earned cash to buy it.

With artists such as Horizon Fire so ably scratching the itch of BoC fans (and for free), and Proem maintaining such a regular schedule of high quality output, I’m at the point where I almost don’t care whether anything appears from BoC again.

I don’t know how BoC see themselves now, but that must surely be the worst possible news for any musician who releases music commerically.

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