Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Drum Beat 21 Hours a Day

Photo by Jacob Ring, Bianca Chang or Nikolaus Kaiser. You guess which one.

I don't like Boards of Canada, and I don't think I ever will. Klaus Schulze, Sinoia Caves, other spacey synth-based music I love, in fact, but there's something distinctly un-musical (to my ear) about Boards of Canada. In their weirder moments, it makes me think they were exposed to Jeff Mills at too young an age and for too long a period of time. In Boards of Canada's more accessible moments, (Dayvan Cowboy, let's say) they sound like trip-hop elevator music for a Zen shopping mall populated by soul-less yuppies with a sci-fi twist in a CBS mini-series from the mid-90s. Or more appropriately, it sounds like coming down off some seriously bad drugs, feeling depressed and praying for sleep. I didn't grow up on electronica, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin or anything like that, so it's all beyond me, and seems to exist in a realm where I can't comprehend the musical touchstones or signifiers, with inside jokes that don't make sense to me and genre conventions that are equally as baffling.

But, were you, Hypothetical Fan, to describe in a short couple of sentences the sound of Boards of Canada to me, I would be very interested to hear it, but actually, in my mind, that band would sound like Black Moth Super Rainbow, who belong just as much to the mythical Jungian life-force as they do to wherever the hell it is in Pennsylvania they were born.

I first came across Black Moth Super Rainbow when they put a Sonicbids submission in to Pop Montreal for the 2005 edition and, while the showcase I ended putting on drew, oh, about 15 people, you can chalk that up to my own incompetence, and the fact that no one knew just how good this group was. And damn, they were good, even to a crowd of 15 people in Petit Campus.

Black Moth Super Rainbow's music is tuneful, layered, interesting, bringing up sunny summer days in the woods just as much as space travel and star dust and intergalactic flights, forward-looking and slightly whimsical, but not kitschy, although they did release an EP with a scratch-and-sniff cover...

The Just For The Night remix posted above is from last year and slipped under my radar. Ms. Burhenn is a singer-songwriter with a who appears to have some tangential connection to the Dischord post-hardcore & indie scene in Washington, DC, but a voice that's more closely related to Sarah McLachlan or, in the case of this song, Alison Goldfrapp.


scott w. gray said...

BMSR are great, but I'm surprised you don't see similarities to boards o' canada, because I think there's some crossover there.

Maybe check out Odd Nosdam's rework of BOC's stuff. Could offer a different take on them.

I love the vocals with BMSR - something My Bloody Valentine / His Name is Alive about them.

Jay Watts III said...

Oh, I totally see the similarities - my point was more that I think BMSR do what BOC seem to be doing, but in a way that I really like it. This is, of course, not based on any in-depth exploration of the BoC back-catalogue - just me running my mouth off - but I'll check out Odd Nosdam. Thanks!