Review - Geogaddi

Artist: Boards of Canada

Few electronic artists capture the duality of nature as effectively as Scottish duo Boards of Canada. With 1998's "Music Has the Right to Children," Boards introduced a musical perspective that divided the outdoor world into a beautiful landscape, expressed in splashes of dazed keyboard tones, and a brutal reality meted out in sinister beats. "Children" conjured shades of "Wild Kingdom"'s Marlin Perkins narrating breathlessly as a lion gracefully stalked its prey. Boards filtered sunlight into the clearing while maintaining the sense that, just beyond the edge of the music, something was on the verge of attacking.

"Geogaddi" ratchets the anxiety up several notches as Boards abandon daylight and head subterranean, taking "Children"'s stem-to-stern consistency with it. Melodies are darker, beats slower, and samples of children processed unsettlingly. "Dawn Chorus" and the chilling "Gyroscope" imply abuse, chewing up kid voices and spitting them out in awkwardly suggestive rhythms. The salty wash of "Dandelion" doubles as an excuse to show off campy Jacques Cousteau narration. The New-Age-with-fangs "Alpha and Omega" pulses through a nuclear sky; "1969" lopes across a wasteland of chopped Vocoder lyrics and inverted euphoria, rolling its eyes at both Woodstock and Daft Punk; "Diving Station" dispatches a lamb of a piano melody alone down a trail beset by howling winds. But brief, eerie sketches like "Beware the Friendly Stranger" pile up quickly, and their choppy intrusion detracts from the record's worthwhile moments. In the end, it's hard not to feel a little disappointed with Geogaddi--but the record only feels like a letdown because "Children" set the bar so high.