Boards Of Canada -‘The Campfire Headphase’ (Warp, 2005)
As anyone who has any interest in leftfield electronica will have realised that this is the twentieth anniversary of the seminal Warp label. Formed in Sheffield in 1989, the label has given us Aphex Twin, Leila, Autechre, Broadcast and Boards Of Canada, as well as subsequently diversifying and bringing us Battles, Maximo Park and !!!
Many people cite the Boards Of Canada’s brilliantly named Music Has The Right To Children as their defining moment. I would humbly suggest (heretically and offensively so, no doubt, to some) that, actually The Campfire Headphase is their finest moment. This is the sound of the scots duo experimenting and producing little less than gold. It’s the sound of winter, and how, amongst the cold, and wet, there’s something really beautiful there.
I suppose as much of this is to do with the situation is was in at the time when I first heard this record. About 2003-5 two things happened that had a major impact on me, not just musically. I was working in Fopp, and getting exposed to a lot of music that I hadn’t heard before. So after I finished in July 2005 and went off to teach, I had expanded my music collection to include more than just indie and metal, and there was much more by way of dance, hip-hop and electronica of all shapes and sounds. More importantly and more significantly, I met and eventually started going out with the lady who is now Mrs. 17 Seconds (well, hey, it doesn’t do to rush these things. And anyway, how many married couples do you know whose relationship has started with ‘Get your coat?’ Exactly). The one day Mrs. 17 Seconds introduced me to all sorts of electronica and chill-type music I hadn’t really heard before – Royksopp, Bent, Bonobo and Zero 7, amongst others. One day in Avalanche she heard The Campfire Headphase and put it on her Christmas list. And brother 17 Seconds bought it for her.
That Christmas, brother 17 Seconds was doing panto up in Aberdeen (as you do). I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Aberdeen. Then the next day drove nearly three hundred miles in my ancient battered car (which pretty much gave up the ghost not long after) to the Lake District to see my beloved. We had one day together before she was back working during the day. In the days before new year, I got on and wrote a scheme of work for school. This was the soundtrack as I sat in the basement of the to-be-in-laws and tried to come up with ways to excite disaffected students.
So this is what the album reminds me of: wooing my wife, romantic gestures, long drives, winter -how it’s bleak and beautiful. oh yeah, and that there’s more to scottish music than skinny boys with telecasters.