Boards of Canada

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A Scottish Electronic Dance Music duo, who are also thought of as having been one of the major influences over Ambient House

The duo consist of brothers Michael Sandison (born 1 June 1970) and Marcus Eoin (born Marcus Eoin Sandison, 21 July 1971).

They have released several works on Warp Records with little advertising and few interviews, while also having an elusive and obscure back-catalogue of releases on their self-run Music70 label. They have also recorded at least four tracks under the alias of Hell Interface.


Early years (1986–1994)

Growing up in a musical family, brothers Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin began playing instruments at a young age. They experimented with recording techniques at around the age of 10, using tape machines to layer cut-up samples of found sounds over compositions of their own.

In their teens they participated in a number of amateur bands. However, it was not until 1986 when Marcus was invited to join Mike's band that Boards of Canada was born, naming themselves after the documentary TV films by the National Film Board of Canada that they watched as children.

By 1989, the band had been reduced to Sandison and Eoin. In the early 1990s, a number of collaborations took place and the band put on small shows among the "Hexagon Sun" collective.

Twoism EP, Boc Maxima and Hi Scores EP (1995–1996)

In 1995, the band made their first Hexagon Sun studio release, the EP Twoism. Like earlier Music70 releases, it was produced in a self-financed limited run and was privately distributed, primarily to friends and labels. Unlike previous releases, however, a small number of copies were also released to the public through a mailing list. Though not a widespread commercial release, it was considered of sufficient quality and worth to be subsequently re-pressed in 2002.

The band made another release in 1996; titled Boc Maxima, it was a semi-private release that was notable for being a full-length album, and was the precursor to Music Has the Right to Children, with which it shares many tracks.

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Boards of Canada's first commercial release occurred after attracting the attention of Autechre's Sean Booth, of the English label Skam Records, one of many people who were sent a demo EP. Skam issued what was considered Boards of Canada's first "findable" work, Hi Scores, in 1996.

Music Has the Right to Children and In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country EP (1998–2000)

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The debut studio album, Music Has the Right to Children, was released in April 1998. The album consists of longer tracks mixed with song vignettes. It also includes one of the duo's most popular songs, "Roygbiv". Music Has the Right to Children received widespread acclaim upon release. It featured at #35 on Pitchfork's "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s" list. It was ranked #91 in Mojo's 100 Modern Classics list.

John Peel featured Boards of Canada on his BBC Radio 1 program in July of that year. The session featured two remixes from Music Has the Right to Children — "Aquarius (Version 3)" and "Olson (Version 3)" — along with the tracks "Happy Cycling" and "XYZ". Excluding "XYZ", the set was released on a Warp Records CD titled Peel Session TX 21/07/1998.

Though never an actively touring band, Boards of Canada did perform a handful of shows. Early shows saw them supporting Warp labelmates Seefeel and Autechre in a handful of UK dates. They also participated in a few festivals and multi-artist bills including two Warp parties: Warp's 10th Anniversary Party in 1999 and The Incredible Warp Lighthouse Party almost one year later. They made their most prominent showing in 2001 as one of the headliners at the Tortoise-curated All Tomorrow's Parties. They have not performed a live show since.

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The band released a four-track EP, In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country, in November 2000, their first original release in two years. The 12" edition was pressed on sky blue vinyl.

Geogaddi (2002)

Their second studio album, Geogaddi, was released in February 2002. Like Music Has the Right to Children, this album consists of longer tracks mixed with song vignettes. It also presents a darker sound than its predecessor. Geogaddi received universal acclaim from music critics.

It was described by Sandison as "a record for some sort of trial-by-fire, a claustrophobic, twisting journey that takes you into some pretty dark experiences before you reach the open air again."

The Campfire Headphase and Trans Canada Highway EP (2005–2006)

Their third album for Warp Records, The Campfire Headphase, was released on 17 October 2005 in Europe and 18 October 2005 in the United States. The album featured fifteen tracks, including "Peacock Tail", "Chromakey Dreamcoat," and "Dayvan Cowboy". Two versions of "Dayvan Cowboy" — the original and a remix by Odd Nosdam — are on the six-track EP, Trans Canada Highway, which was released on 26 May 2006.

In late 2009, the Warp20 (Recreated) compilation featured two BoC covers, one by Bibio of their song "Kaini Industries" and one by Mira Calix of "In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country". Warp20 (Recreated) is part of the larger Warp20 boxed set, which also includes two previously unreleased Boards of Canada tracks, "Seven Forty Seven" and a 1.8 second sample of "Spiro".

Tomorrow's Harvest (2013) -Present

On Record Store Day 2013, a vinyl record containing a short clip of music which was believed to be the work of Boards of Canada surfaced at the New York record store Other Music. Shortly after the release, Warp Records vouched for the record's authenticity. The record (titled ------/------/------/xxxxxx/------/------) contained a short clip of audio followed by a voice reading six digits similar to that of a numbers station. The record revealed what was to become one of six unique numbers that were part of a type of alternate reality game that was used to promote the release of their next studio album.

The rest of the codes were hidden through various websites and online communities, as well as being broadcast over BBC Radio One, NPR, and Adult Swim. After much speculation, the official website for the band redirected users to another website which asked for the user to enter a password. Once all six unique codes are entered, a video is shown announcing Tomorrow's Harvest, their fourth studio album. The album was released on 5 June 2013 in Japan, 10 June 2013 in Europe, and 11 June 2013 in the United States to widespread critical acclaim.

In the beginning of 2016, Boards Of Canada released two remixes. The first was a remix of NEVERMEN's "Mr Mistake", released on January 12, 2016.

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Shortly after, they released their remix of Sisters by Odd Nosdam on February 22, 2016.

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Musical Style

Boards of Canada's music is reminiscent of the warm, analogue sounds of 1970s media and contains themes of childhood, nostalgia and the natural world. Mike and Marcus have mentioned the documentary films of the National Film Board of Canada, from which the group's name is derived, as a source of inspiration. Other, more industrial sounds are often incorporated in their music, with usage of distorted, highly processed beats. The vast majority of their tracks are downtempo ambient, although some releases display faster, more abrasive sounds.


Studio Albums List

1) Catalog 3 (The album was originally released only as a cassette in 1987)

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2) Music Has the Right to Children' (Warp/Skam, 1998)

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3) Geogaddi (Warp/Music70, 2002)

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4) The Campfire Headphase (Warp, 2005)

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5) Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp, 2013)

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EPs List

1) Twoism (Music70, 1995)

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2) Hi Scores (Skam, 1996)

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3) Hooper Bay (1994)


4) Play by Numbers (1994)


5) Aquarius (Skam, 1998)

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6) Peel Session TX 21/07/1998 (Warp, 1999)

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7) In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country (Warp/Music70, 2000)

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8) Trans Canada Highway (Warp, 2006)

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Old Tunes and other oddities

Supposed early Boards of Canada recordings have been found online, claiming to be original tracks from Catalog 3, Acid Memories, Hooper Bay and other pre-Twoism albums.

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All unreleased albums are presumed to be inauthentic BoC recordings, with the exceptions of Boc Maxima, the Old Tunes tapes and the Random 35 Tracks Tape. While the Old Tunes tapes are believed to be authentic (mostly due to the inclusion of very similar tracks found elsewhere on official releases), there has never been any official recognition of their authenticity.

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External Links

Boards of Canada at