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Utility Fog

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Sunday, 9th of June, 2013

Playlist 09.06.13 (10:11 pm)

Hey kids, Boards of Canada! And hey, Jon Hopkins!

Listen again or for the first time, on the podcast, downloadable below, or in stereo on your mobile or computer streamed on demand from FBi.

So, the bulk of tonight's show was taken up by a massive retrospective on Boards of Canada. I'm not embarrassed, no I'm not. Sure, they're not the only group I'm obsessed with, but what better way to spend over an hour of your Sunday evening? I tried to cover a whole lot of ground and gave you a few obscure-ish numbers, although nothing specifically from the so-rare-they're-practically-unreleased Closes, A Few Old Tunes and Boc Maxima cassettes — some of which are rumoured to be getting the re-release treatment soon (don't quote me on this kidz)
So BoC's new album came out surprisingly quickly after an insanely hyped lead-up which I'm not going to recount here. The key is that it's a really magnificent new album. I'm not one to denigrate 2007's The Campfire Headphase: it's not their best, but "Dayvan Cowboy" is up there with my favourite of their songs, with sun-kissed guitar strums, electronic beats meeting live drums, and then this glorious synth melody floating above it that's just pure Boards of Canada magic.
And maybe that should be our focus when discussing the Scottish brothers... we could discuss their production, the sound of cassettes left on the hot backseat of a car, the head-nodding b-boy beats they love, the children's voices and the slightly disquieting edge even to their most happy-sounding tracks, and the overwhelming, warm air of nostalgia that floats through it all: but this is all underpinned by their unerring ear for melody, for unlikely lines snaking through strange but perfect chord progressions, in tracks that take breathtaking 90° turns 2/3 of the way through...
There's nobody like them. Let's celebrate it.

So, we started with their earliest EPs. I heard the so-called Hi Scores when it first came out on vinyl, and my tiny mind was blown by the beats and synths, and most of all by the beauty. The track it's colloquially named after is still one of my faves, other-worldly and seemingly not of its time. Around the same time, their first home of Manchester's SKAM Records teamed up with Funkstörung's Musik Aus Strom for a series of compilation EPs called MASK, on which the artists were named but not explicitly attached to the songs they produced. They were ultra-limited and I confess I've never owned any myself, but they feature an amazing techno tune by BoC and also an appearance under the alter ego Hell Interface, in which they dabbled in their own special way with mashups, twisting soul, folk and even Christmas music into spectral Boards of Canada-style productions.
Also before their first album even came out, they produced an incredible remix for Funkstörung's Michael Fakesch, one of those aforementioned twisty tracks that start in one spot and end up, through some minimalist evolution and melodic gymnastics, somewhere else entirely.

In the middle there I wanted to sneak in something else special — so in the place of "In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country", we heard Mira Calix's beautiful cover with Oliver Coates — strings replacing their synths, along with field recordings of children.
And Boards of Canada's later remixes shouldn't be ignored either, including work for Boom Bip and a rather lovely rework of a Beck track, but I'm partial to their Beatlesque version of a cLOUDDEAD track — the Anticon guys a longtime fans, Odd Nosdam in particular.

On the new album, "Reach For The Dead" is of course an instant classic, a slow grower which could easily last twice as long (cf DJ Food's 10 minute extension). I could've played much more, but the history lesson took up too much time, so we just had the extraordinary, loping 3/4 beat of "Jacquard Causeway" to finish up the BoC special.

It's not unreasonable that the other artist to share tonight's special is Jon Hopkins. When Insides came out it was a revelation. Such incredible flow, silvery melodic mastery, glistening piano, and devastating bass & beats. So I can't help expressing my disappointment in a new album in which all that beauty is compartmentalised into divisions of 2, the barlines and 4/4 kicks of house in the vein of recent Four Tet. No question, Hopkins' wonderful musicianship shines through, and within its own confines it's lovely stuff, but there's so much missing in comparison to that previous album.
I couldn't help also playing the stunning remix by string duo Geese, one of their classic re-fixes with ricochet-bow beats and ostinati. Awesome.

Boards of Canada - Reach For The Dead [Warp]
Boards of Canada - Sixtyniner [Warp]
Boards of Canada - hi scores [SKAM]
Boards of Canada - turquoise hexagon sun (excerpt) [SKAM]
Boards of Canada - Korona (excerpt) [SKAM/Musik Aus Strom]
Hell Interface - Trapped (excerpt) [SKAM/Musik Aus Strom]
Michael Fakesch - Surfaise (The Trade Winds mix by Boards of Canada [Musik Aus Strom]
Boards of Canada - aquarius [Warp]
Boards of Canada - Happy Cycling [Warp]
Mira Calix with Oliver Coates - In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (Boards of Canada cover) [Warp]
Boards of Canada - sunshine recorder [Warp]
cLOUDDEAD - Dead Dogs Two (remixed by Boards of Canada) [Big Dada/Mush]
Boards of Canada - dayvan cowboy [Warp]
Boards of Canada - Jacquard Causeway [Warp]
Jon Hopkins - Vessel [Domino]
Jon Hopkins - We Disappear [Domino]
Jon Hopkins - Second Sense (feat. Imogen Heap) [Just Music]
Jon Hopkins - Insides [Domino]
Jon Hopkins - The Low Places (Geese Remix) [Domino]
Jon Hopkins - Breathe This Air [Domino]

Listen again — ~ 108MB

2 Responses to “Playlist 09.06.13”

  1. declan Says:

    Love the Boards of Canada and Jon Hopkins show. You are wrong about the 4/4 thing, Immunity is grand!

  2. Peter Says:

    hehe No I am right about the 4/4 thing - but Immunity is pretty good even so. I just wish it had a bit more give to it.

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