Boards of Canada’s exquisite In a Beautiful Place out in the Country was first released ten years ago today on November 27, 2000, and it’s a moment worth remembering I think. Recall that the world had gone mad over their first full length release, Music has the Right to Children, and had waited well over two years for something new — that this was such a bolt from the blue makes it all the more impressive. I hold this lovely little four-track EP in the highest regard, and the limited edition sky blue vinyl as one of my most cherished possessions. I still can’t believe I opened it for a friend to play, otherwise it would still be sitting in the plastic sleeve, untouched by human hands.
I always recommend these four songs to people new to electronic music in general or BoC in particular — I can’t think of a better representation of the genre itself or their body of work. IABPOITC flows so effortlessly you just might miss it on the first listen. Successive spins pull you deeper and deeper into its trance, leaving you no closer to solving the mystery of its magic, but thirsty for more. I still find it endlessly entertaining and every bit as alluring as my first listen ten years ago. Warp’s founder, Steve Beckett, the man who brought BoC to the masses, says it best:
“Sweet psychedelic 80′s funk – Boards have got a nack for sucking you into a tune within a few seconds and then just holding you there in the beauty of their sounds which connect directly to your heart.”
It begs to be played as one song from start to finish, but the title track stands alone as the finest of the four. Have a listen:
For those of you paying attention to my humble blog, you’ll note that I left this masterpiece off of my 20 songs from my favorite 20 albums of the 2000s. I cannot begin to explain nor atone for this error. It belongs not only on the list but at or near the top.
Lastly, I was fortunate enough to see them play live in 1999 at Warp’s We Are Ten party in London. They opened their set with the fourth track on the then-unreleased IABPOITC, Zoetrope. A zoetrope loosely translates from Greek to “wheel of life” in English, dates to the second century, and functions as a crude means of showing animation, none of which I knew at the time. I have searched high and low for some footage, even a still photograph, of the video they showed on the screen behind them as this song played — words fail to describe what is still one of the most magical things I have ever seen. Think of the cover art on MHTRTC, with those same nameless and faceless forms, this time in full motion on playground equipment, only instead of moving forward they floated backward without a hint of anything unnatural. It was, as this entire release is, an astonishingly beautiful sleight of hand.
Here’s the audio of Zoetrope from the show:
Thank you, Mike and Marcus, for this still wonderful gift, even ten years later. Now, may I please ask for something new in 2011?