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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Boards Of Canada: Trans Canada Highway


1) Dayvan Cowboy; 2) Left Side Drive; 3) Heard From Telegraph Lines; 4) Skyliner; 5) Under The Coke Sign; 6) Dayvan Cowboy (Odd Nosdam remix).

Originally, I managed to mistake this for an actual album, even though it is really a stop-gap EP (or «maxi-single», whatever): 28 minutes, 5 of which is ʽDayvan Cowboyʼ (already included in Campfire Headphase and discussed above), 5 more of which is a remix of ʽDayvan Cowboyʼ by trendy producer Odd Nosdam, and only about 15 minutes of which actually consists of material unavailable elsewhere. Nevertheless, on the whole it is still pretty long, and a brief comment may be in order (besides, Twoism and Hi Scores were EPs, too, formally speaking).

The remix of ʽCowboyʼ seems like a crapola exercise to me: the major point was to take the composition's sonic subtleties and convert them to jarring, distorted noise, so that the «Link Wray guitar» parts of it now sound more like «Sonic Youth guitar» parts. Artistic license is always welcome, but Boards Of Canada have never been a «noise»-oriented band, and I do not see the point in trying to reinvent their art as some sort of «neo-shoegazing» project. That said, there's no accounting for taste, really — any combinations, reinventions, or deconstructions in this densely populated world of ours will always find some audience.

The two new large tracks, ʽLeft Side Driveʼ and ʽSkylinerʼ, seem to pre-announce the duo's transition to the next stage of their career, to be fully explored on Tomorrow's Harvest several years later — a return to a completely electronic sound (no acoustic guitars or any other «folk» accoutrements), but more dynamic and multi-layered than the early style: chill-out muzak for people who just want to be chilled out, rather than «symbolically stimulated». The former em­ploys digital tones that I'd call «cloudy», the latter relies on tones I'd name «steamy», but the overriding ideology is pretty much the same, and so is the general effect (lazy psychedelia — light trance — breezy hallucinations — don't drink and drive — that sort of thing). Okay, but nothing special whatsoever.

Finally, the short tracks are just atmospheric humming interludes: ʽHeard From Telegraph Linesʼ (and subsequently amplified, bottled, and sold) pretty much describes the essence of this minute-long bit in a nutshell, and if ʽUnder The Coke Signʼ genuinely describes whatever is happening down there, I'm pretty sure the owner is not doing a good business at all. Or maybe they just mean a billboard along some lonely highway — the Trans Canada Highway, that is. Arguably the best way to assess this EP is simply to take the highway and plop this in your stereo. Be warned, though — according to Wikipedia, the highway is approximately 4,860 miles long, so you'll have a lot of replaying to do. But if there's anything we can learn from Boards Of Canada at all, it's that the world need be in no hurry, and that slow and repetitive digestion beats fussy and varied digestion on all counts.

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