The genius of Boards Of Canada in 10 essential tracks

1. Boards Of Canada
‘Spectrum’ (from A

Few Old Tunes, Music70 cassette, 1995)

Boards Of Canada’s music often gets described as redemptive, a postlapsarian attempt to recuperate a long-lost childhood. It’s worth remembering, however, that Eoin and Sandison were already making electronic music together long before they hit puberty. As children, the pair would tweak and splice shortwave radio recordings on a battered portable recorder. This same air of wide-eyed curiosity is evident throughout their juvenilia, at once winningly ramshackle and strikingly diverse. Their fabled 1994 Play By Numbers EP (survived only by chugging fragment ‘Wouldn’t You Like To Be Free’) sees them investigating shoegazey indie-rock. The privately circulated sketches that make up the A Few Old Tunes series, meanwhile, show the pair on similarly venturesome form.

Picking an exemplary cut from A Few Old Tunes is a fool’s errand. Variety is the order of the day: acid house experiments (‘David Came To Mahana’im’), twee miniatures (‘Jimbo Rehearsing’) and impish cut-ups (‘Blockbusters’) all compete for attention. ‘Spectrum’, however, points towards the band BoC would become. The track aligns the unsettling and the sweet, and keeps half an eye on the dancefloor in the process. For all its rudeness, there’s a real grandeur to ‘Spectrum’- the sound of mist clearing, of light being thrown. From the happy-slap breakbeat through to the phased synth riffs, it’s as irrepressible as anything that was to follow.

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