I lent this CD to my boyfriend and now his car stereo refuses to give it back. So there you have it - even Swedish cars like Boards of Canada.
If you own their previous albums you'll want to get this one too; and if you don't, Campfire Headphase is just as good a place to start as any other. I was renting a CD from the library the other day, and when I told the muso behind the counter that I actually thought Campfire Headphase was better than Music has the Right to Children he acted like I'd just confessed to secret fantasies about having sex with glove puppets or something. I'm not a BoC fanatic, just a fan. Music has the Right is great too, but Campfire Headphase just happens to do it for me on a personal level. It's sweeter and more melodic - music to wake up to, fall asleep to, make love to, even break up to... pretty much everything, in fact, except dance to.
I get to listen to it now and again on car journeys, when my boyfriend's forgotten his iPod, and it's like remembering a really cool dream you had once, where everything was Technicolor or you finally got to snog the boy you fancied, or suddenly realised you could fly... It's not like reality: it's better than that. A few people have mentioned stand-out tracks, and I too like Peacock Tail... and Dayvan Cowboy, Sherbet Head, Tears from the Compound Eye... Oh God, I love them all, really! The only one that doesn't do it for me is Oscar See Through Red Eye, and of course some of the song titles are a bit loony but that's not necessarily a criticism. They make the best covers too; the artwork is outstanding, and predisposes you to like the music before you've even heard it. I'm not really sure what a 'campfire headphase' is... but it kind of describes the buzz I get every time I hear this amazing album. They ought to make it compulsory listening - the world would be a nicer place.
on 5 October 2006
Boards of Canada are one of those very rare acts that come along once in a while with a sound so polarised, so outside everything else, that they've practically invented a new genre of their own. Think of the influence that the likes of Beefheart, My Bloody Valentine, Brian Eno, The Velvet Underground or Aphex Twin have had on their respective genres, and you start to get an idea of the impact this Scottish duo have had on the electronica scene over the past ten years.
'The Campfire Headphase' surprised fans with the sudden and unexpected use of guitar sounds on this, their third 'proper' album. BOC are well-known for their unmistakable analogue drones and science-programme jingles, which are present here in the gorgeously wonky tracks like '84 Pontiac Dream' and 'Oscar See Through Red Eye', but now the sounds are augmented by squelchy percussion and what sounds like a broken electric guitar with half of its strings missing. In fact the stand-out tracks for this reviewer are two of the most heavily guitar-oriented; The wonderfully lysergic 'Satellite Anthem Icarus' and the epic sci-fi western (as the band put it) 'Dayvan Cowboy', with its shuddering tremolo guitar and thunderous cymbal crashing climax.
The result is a strange new angle on the 'BOC' sound, part introspective synth ambience, and part seventies library music band in a jam session. In fact, the retro element is a key to the focus of this album's intent. Occasionally a poorly-informed reviewer, usually new to Boards of Canada, attempts to criticise their music with remarks about their 'cheesy 70s synth sounds', when in fact this is an unwitting compliment to BOC. As if the band's name, (which derives from the 1970s TV documentaries of the National Film Board of Canada), isn't a big enough clue.
The Campfire Headphase is a beautiful, strange and psychedelic reminder of the emotional potential of instrumental electronica. Recommended.
on 20 October 2005
I've been a huge fan of Boards of Canada since first hearing Music has the right to children back in 1998 & I've enjoyed everything the Board's have put out since then. There has been a lot of Comparisons drawn up between BoC releases as each one has appeared. The classic comparison is usually between MHTRTC & the follow up album, Geogaddi where the prevailing view seems to be that it's not up to the standard of the first album. Personally I thought Geogaddi was every bit as good as MHTRTC but it did do things a little differently. It had all the typical BoC melodies, Distorted but warm sounds, beats, obscure & hugely intriguing vocal snippets, etc. It was different but it was still BoC through & through.
I feel much the same about Campfire Headphase. Again things are a little different but it's still unmistakably Boards of Canada. This time round BoC seem to have dropped the deliberately mysterious moments & 'Easter eggs' of Geogaddi (which caused much debate) and just let the music do the talking! In this respect it's probably closer to MHTRTC than Geogaddi. BoC have also used a fair amount of guitar on this album. Both acoustic & electric but in both cases these sounds seem to have been subject to much tinkering & manipulation - you'd expect no less from the Boards. It's their ability to shape the sounds they use & inject their own unique quality that has given them their sound & reputation.
Unfortunately it's this reputation that blights BoC somewhat now as people expect a lot of them. I guess this happens with all bands/artists that put out landmark albums - every subsequent release is expected to be equally as groundbreaking. I like to think that BoC are less concerned with this & more concerned with continuing to put out music that they enjoy creating & that other people enjoy listening to. For me this really comes across in Campfire Headphase & I think it's their most accomplished work to date. It's more subtle than Geogaddi, less groundbreaking (by BoC's standards) as they initially sounded to me on hearing MHTRTC & it's also maybe their most 'pop' album & possibly their most accessible. This might have concerned some people who have developed their own ideas about which direction this album would take based on previous works.
My advise when listening to Campfire Headphase is not to concern yourself with previous BoC releases & just listen to this in it's entirety, as a single entity .......... then listen again! I defy you not to be swept away by the beauty of tracks like 84 Pontiac dream, Satellite anthem Icarus, Peacock tail, Hey Saturday sun, Slow this bird down etc, etc. I could have more or less named every track on the album but these are probably the stand out tracks for me. All of them unmistakably BoC despite some of them utilising sounds that you won't have heard from BoC before now. And like previous BoC albums this also works extremely well as an album i.e. It's not a few good tracks with 12 others added to make it an album. It's a complete work lovingly crafted & executed to near perfection!
I am a latecomer to BOC's unique and inspiring sound having bought their newest album Tomorrow's Harvest sight unseen and pretty much instantly falling in love with it.
Whilst the new album is redolent of a 70's TV show, replete with spooky synth, archival scratches and eerie minor key pieces, The Campfire Headphase is more uplifting.
Yes, the BOC template is followed to the letter, beautiful washes of sound that evoke mood and memory, the carefully aged and damaged sounds, the layers and the intrigue. But, where this differs from the newest album is the use of guitar, the filtered pluck of the strings fit in very well with the theme of this album and reminds me of some of Lemonjelly's work, clever use of electronics with a nod to folk and analogue. I guess this album would fit into the folktronica genre but such a claim is to do the work a disservice.
I have been utterly enthralled and transported by the music in this album, it is perfect background music that subtly effects your mood and uplifts the soul.
An absolutely essential purchase for anyone with any interest in high quality, emotive and beautifully textured music.
on 24 December 2013
Boards Of Canada from Edinburgh??? Go figure!!!
This album has genuinely left me speechless. It's beautiful, in every definition of the word beautiful, it is that.
Recommended without fail. If I come to your house and don't find this in your collection, I am leaving until rectified. This group deserve far more recognition and praise. In fact, movie directors looking for soundtracks, get your act together and book this group. Every track is like it's come from a movie. Dark depths await you, dive in if you dare.
My total praise to this group, new to me in 2013, I now have all your music, look forward to your next.
on 7 November 2005
My first play of this was almost like having the first cigarette hit of the day. Rush down shops, buy Campfire Headphase, get packaging off, GET PACKAGING OFF, inCDplayerinCDplayerinCDplayer, PLAY!, whooosh ... ahhhhh. A new injection of calm from my favourite brand of electronica. Big smile on face yet felt slightly ridiculous at getting this giddy over a CD.
Campfire Headphase is a lighter, more organic affair when compared to the electronic icy chill of Music Has The Right To Children or the stark and mechanical Geogaddi. Think Turquoise Hexagon Sun rather than Sixtyten as far as mood goes. More samples and guitars have floated into their sonic landscapes, settling with ease alongside those trademark simple melodies and short interludes that we now know so well. I've already found myself loving the likes of the oh so uplifting Peacock Tail with the rewind button being hit many times to hear those strings kick in just one. more. time.
Some may lay the criticism that this isn't drastically pushing on BoC in great strides, but I'm quite happy taking some more of what they do so well, especially when compared to some recent efforts from some of Warp's old guard. Personally, I tend to stay away from reviews, deciding to form my own love and opinion for albums. There is time and place for Music Has The Right To Children, Geogaddi and now Campfire Headphase ... all of which rank equally in my estimation, all for different reasons. I can say, however, that this has replaced Music... as the album I'd recommend to people to introduce them to the world of BoC. Its an easy album to slip into and sit through from beginning to end, more appealing to those who think that IDM is a brand of PC. Of course, once hooked, they can go delve into the wonderful history of albums, EPs and rarities.
The comforting bubble of BoC is proving the ideal antidote to crowded 7:45am trains, the bustle of people washed away as I find a corner to hide in with the offkilter world of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Paracetamol for the soul.
on 10 February 2007
It's the most spiritual BOC album yet, and the most spiritual album I've heard. With BOC, their music takes on a life of its own once recorded, it's ghostly. This is fascinating, beautiful stuff. Although one might miss the spooky 70's TV samples and vibes (surely to return at some point), the more modern, instrument-based BOC somehow still feels like pure BOC whilst giving listeners a new angle. Peacock Tail is the standout for me; hypnotic, atmospheric, mysterious, melodic...pure BOC. Enough said!
*This is an update to this review. I've now lived with this album for a couple of years, and it's absolute magic, full of depth, the aforementioned mystery, and charm. The instrumentation is so well balanced, often subtle, often delicate, and BOC often leave a melody spacious and uncluttered, just letting the character of the notes ring through against their ghostly backgrounds.
This is a marvellous record. I sometimes wonder what I'd do without BOC. Wonderful stuff.
on 11 October 2005
Seems BOC fans divide themselves into lovers or haters of Geogaddi. Never quite understood it myself to be honest as I found both Geogaddi and MHTRTC took a good couple of listens to appreciate and then love. Unlike the (good) review below, however, I prefered Geogaddi to everything BOC had done previously, excluding the A Beautiful Place EP, so I can possibly offer a different perspective.
The random, disturbed quality of Geogaddi is absent here. Ditto for the 'psychedelic' elements. Tracks are quite clearly differentiated from each other, build to their peaks and dissipate. While some have said that the tone is happier, I would say that it comes across as more composed and contained, certainly feeling less insecure than Geogaddi. I don't really think one is happier or more depressed than the other, as both trade in that refined BOC melancholy with an ecstatic grin.
Gains have been made though. Guitars are woven intelligently into the sound and add texture, but to no extremes. Finally BOC discover rhythm dynamics and the choice uses that hi-hats can be put to (cf Oscar See Through Red Eye here), which is all to the good.
All in all, more of the same: i.e. different from their former LPs but brilliant in its own particular way. Buy it, you won't be dissapointed!
on 24 October 2005
It makes me laugh when people say 'this album lacks the originality of MHTRTC'. What did you think was going to happen? That BoC would turn on a sixpence and do something completely different to the music they've been nurturing for the past 15 years? I don't think so somehow, it would be an insult to the integrity of the music and its loyal fans.
People are too busy looking for the next new fix these days, I for one am completely reassured that this album continues BoC's trend of allowing their music to evolve of its own accord instead of sitting in a boardroom brainstorming its new image and direction. For me this album is just as refreshing as the first, and actually improves on the production and themes explored on Geogaddi.
I highly recommend this album to anyone who is interested in listening to sounds that evoke more of an emotional response than your usual two-bit chill out albums. It's instantly accessible (which is good when the music's integrity doesn't suffer - right?) but hasn't exchanged the hidden treasures to be found on repeated listening for instant gratification.
Listen to '84 Pontiac Dream' and 'Oscar See Through Red Eye' and realise that BoC's music has evolved, and I'm not talking about the addition of guitars either - that's what everyone seems so bothered about - does it matter what instruments are used in realising the song's potential? Obviously not for me! I think the organic mathematical beauty of their earlier work meshes brilliantly with this new sound pallette; in fact I'd love to hear a pop song with BoC's sensibilties applied.
I think the image used for cover of The Campfire Headphase was a bad idea: almost like it's trying to recapture MHTRTC's glory - but so what? It's just the cover. For anyone who's annoyed that their hidden secret obsession with BoC's music is less valid because BoC 'appear' more mainstream, tough, you're listening for the wrong reasons. Can't wait to see what they do next.
on 16 March 2016
I had this album on CD when it was first released and I fell in love with it straight away. For me, it's a more organic sounding Boards of Canada album than the previous two Warp releases (Music Has the Right to Children & Geogaddi) with the wider use of guitars in the compositions. The whole album oozes nostalgia and at times pangs of melancholy - Tears From The Compound Eye gets me in the throat every time! The 2 disc reissue is nice, the vinyl is solid and the packaging and artwork really compliments the record.