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Boards Of Canada
(Warp Records)

In terms of anticipated releases for the year 2002, Geogaddi probably ranks up near the top of the list in terms of electronic music. After dropping their Music Has The Right To Children damn near four years ago, the duo of Marcus Eoin and Michael Sandison have definitely taken their time on a follow-up. Sure, they'd been releasing music for almost ten years under the Boards Of Canada moniker, but it was the above album that thrust them into the spotlight with its unique blend of downtempo beats mixed with childlike wonder. Finally, last year they threw everyone a bone with the 4-track EP A Beautiful Place Out In The Country and let everyone know that a new album was in the works.

Geogaddi has finally arrived, under much dissection and even conspiracy. A website I recently visited claimed that different samples on the disc had links from everything to the Branch Davidian cult to even more sinister groups like Charles Manson, but as with most deep music introspection, much of the rumours simply come out sounding like people with too much time on their hands trying to attach meaning to something. At any rate, the big question is what the music would sound like, and could the group keep their stellar track record intact? The answer to those questions are that it indeed does sound just like you'd expect from Boards Of Canada (with a few exceptions noted below), and "yes."

One thing that's easy to discern even on the first listen of the release is that the group has taken a bit more haunting route in constructing the disc. On past releases there have been moments where an almost subconscious darkness creeps into view on ocassion, but with this release it seems like many of the carefree moments of youth have matured into the fears, nightmares, and doubts of a slightly older age (will they tackle high-school next?). With world events that have gone on in the past year, it's easy to see how the innocence of youth could be peeled back even more, and aurally it seems like that's just what the group has done.

One of the biggest things that's noticible is that melodies are increasingly out-of-tune on the release. On "Sunshine Recorder," the happy sample of a child saying 'A beautiful place...' is offset with a woozy melody that drifts along behind a rather potent, shuffling beat, while on "Julie And Candy," the main melody of the track is again run through some odd distortion, giving it a slightly eerie feel instead of the sunny goodness that the title might imply. One of the best tracks on the entire disc, "1969" features some nicely vocodored samples and another crunchy beat backed with even more twisted melodies.

The group also adds a couple rather interesting twists to what you'd expect as well. "Alpha And Omega" feature some tabla-like percussion and flutes that would sound ethnic in origin if not for the other elements the duo pitches into the mix, while "Dawn Chorus" (again, check the creepy funhouse melody and vocal samples) mixes live-drum sounds into a rather haunting track that sounds nothing like you'd imagine its namesake to evoke (the sounds of the first few minutes after the sun rises).

Even though the album is slightly darker in overall tone, the group seems to poke a bit of fun at themselves with the packaging and sounds in the songs. Not only is the cover an ORANGE! hexagon, but the interior photos are all kaleidoscope pictures of playgrounds and kids, and several tracks feature counting of some sort while another features Leslie Nielsen (of Naked Gun and Airplane! fame) narrating a bit from a Canadian documentary. With 23 tracks, including lots of shorter interludes and almost 66 minutes of music, the release definitely takes awhile to digest. People wishing the group would change up their style a little more might find themselves a bit disappointed, but everyone else should be happy to know that they've again put forth a very solid effort, and one of the best electronic releases yet this year.

Rating: 8.25