Warp Records – 2005 – 62 minutes
Melodic guitars are not the first thing you expect to hear on the 'Campfire Headphase', let alone a Warp Records release. But Boards of Canada are now filtering sounds through machines with a rhythm and pace that is unmistakably organic.
Straying from the unfathomable structures of the dark 'Geogaddi', this new album seems less intent on worrying you with the strange concepts behind the strange noises. The previous album prompted fans with far too much time on their hands to speculate on the thinking behind the densely programmed tracks, something the artists mischievously did little to discourage. If there are such complex calculations behind this music they have been more artfully obscured.
Replacing the sampled snatches of conversation that peppered their earlier albums with equally-treated guitars, these are pastoral soundscapes made for autumn evenings. That said, BoC have never been against a good atonal freakout now and again and there are plenty of the short interludes they do so well holding this album together.
It has taken three years for Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin to return with their third album proper, and the reclusive duo (brothers apparently) have met the expectations with confidence. From the strangled guitar chords of 'Chromakey Dreamcoat' onwards, a succession of lush compositions laid over breakbeats demonstrate just why BoC are leaders in their field.
Back-to-back, the tracks 'Peacock Tail' and 'Dayvan Cowboy' provide highlights on a record filled with intriguing detours. The production is, of course, peerless and the range of sounds incorporated - without compromising what is a very coherent album - is impressive.
This may not be the startling leap forward that previous releases represented, but the mangled beauty of 'Oscar See Through Red Eye' shows how far ahead of the pack they are to begin with.
Tracklisting: Into the Rainbow Vein – Chromakey Dreamcoat – Satellite Anthem Icarus – Peacock Tail – Dayvan Cowboy – A Moment of Clarity – 84 Pontiac Dream – Sherbet Head – Oscar See Through Red Eye – Ataronchronon – Hey Saturday Sun – Constants are Changing – Slow this Bird Down – Tears from the Compound Eye – Farewell Fire