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on 11 June 2006
Last year's Campfire Headphase LP was really really great. Something that in all honesty I was not expecting, and with this EP they have done it again. Filled with lush warm and slightly decayed textures, the 6 tracks on display here are really wonderful. Starting off with the simply brilliant Dayvan Cowboy lifted from the latest album, acompanied by its video, this is a five minute chill out masterpiece, nothing underlining, relaxing and summery and fresh. But then it's the new pieces that are the main attraction here, and they dont disappoint at all.

Left Side Drive and Skyliner are both louder more beat driven pices, almost like a slowed down and less jazzy Squarepusher, and both of which are excellent, with the latter feeling a lot more agressive than anything before, yet it still keeps its feet on the ground and its BOC character. Two short and sweet tracks also grace this release, Under The Coke Sign and Heard From Telegraph Lines both push deeper into ambient depths, but both are colourful and vibrant with life, like the clouds passing above or simply being relaxed. These sort of tracks quite often end up being pointless, BOC have worked out that they can make them immersive and right. The final track on this is possibly the most interesting, a remix of Dayvan Cowboy by Odd Nosdam brings something new to the release, even more laid back than anything else on here, and still keeping the spirit of the original, its slow burn heavily delayed atmosphere feels more organic than the original, although my only complaint with it is that it keeps stopping and starting, but maybe thats the point. Maybe..

And I don't really know what more I can write about this, simply put, its great... if you want to get into something Warp based, this is certainly a good place to start, not to long not too much not too intense not too relaxed. Eargasmic as a friend of mine would put it.
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The Boards of Canada took a lot of flack for their fuzzy, less ethereal "The Campfire Headphase," which basically explores whole new avenues of music, but didn't sound anything like what they had done before.

But one of those songs comes across far better in "Trans Canada Highway," spearheading an EP of the kind of music that Boards of Canada is known for -- rippling electronica, crammed with atmosphere and chilly beauty. It's a nicely solid little EP, covering both sides of the band's musical palette.

It opens with "Dayvan Cowboy," a mass of fuzz with a rambly little guitar melody in the middle, and decorated with some delicate chiming sounds. About halfway through, a gust of wind blows away all the fuzz and chimes, leaving just a the hesitant guitar, clashing cymbals and a trembling violin. But slowly the fuzz and chimes creep back in....

... just in time for the rattly, atmospheric sweeps of "Left Side Drive," which is more typical of Boards of Canada's music. It's mellow, smooth and atmospheric, with some nice beats. From there they explore the dreamlike prettiness of "Heard From Telegraph Lines" and the staticky "Under the Coke Sign," and the angular synth stretches of "Skyliner."

And finally there's he Odd Nosdam remix of "Dayvan Cowboy." Hoo, this one takes a little getting used to -- for awhile you can just hear planes taking off, it softly segues into a chilly ambient sweep... before finally getting into the expansive, swirling main melody. It takes a LONG time to get anywhere, but it's brilliant when it really gets moving.

"Trans Canada Highway" has a little of every Boards of Canada "sound" in it, flickering through their prior "sounds" with new little songs. And it really makes "Dayvan Cowboy" sound appealing as it didn't before, by letting it be judged on its own merits. It's actually a pretty good song.

Except for an angelic-sounding chorale which only appears for a second, there aren't any vocals in this. Instead, the music is pure -- it's full of shimmering warm analog synth, sharply-defined beats, heavy fuzz, and in "Dayvan Cowboy," a twining of more conventional instrumentation like violin, guitar and clashing drums.

"Trans Canada Highway" is a beautiful little EP, bringing two very different styles for Boards of Canada together. Definitely a good listen.
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on 3 June 2006
I cRiEd WhEn I heARd thiS! Only kidding.

Trans Canada Highway is a very short EP and you would expect Boards of Canada with such a slow output rate to do better than to use half of the EP to reuse a song and to put in someone else's remix mereley as a sign of mutual respect for the artist. Sadly, by reusing Dayvan Cowboy, they have managed to make me tired of it, which is a shame because it is/was an epic. The remix (of Dayvan Cowboy *sigh*) has been described as dramatic but I believe it falls short and is in fact boring, and out of place on a Boards of Canada cd. This remix by Odd Nosdam is enough to make a load of people go and buy his own cds, but that seems ultimately seems the purpose of this track, which takes up a third of the whole EP. Buying Trans Canada Highway is almost like paying to watch adverts on tv.

Fortunately, the fourteen minutes of material here which is both new AND done by Boards of Canada is just about enough to make this a worthwhile purchase, providing you are not paying much for it. The two longer tracks, 'Left Side Drive' and 'Skyliner' remind me a little of the stuff Geogaddi in that despite the beautiful synths they use, the songs contain some quirky elements and I feel that contrast works well, as it did on their album. The other two trademark one-to-two-minute interludes are also pretty good. 'Heard from Telegraph Lines' is up there with 'Over the Horizon Radar' and err (what shall I choose?)... say 'Moment of Clarity' from previous albums and while 'Under the Coke Sign' is not as great, and maybe a little out of place, it is still pretty nice. I have to say, when I was first getting into Boards of Canada a while ago, I was a bit put off by the number of very short tracks that they include on their cds, expecting them to be as pointless and as annoying as the one-minute skits you find on a lot of otherwise good hip-hop albums. Boards of Canada, however, are probably the best artist I have ever heard at making such short tracks, so, believe it or not, 'Heard from Telegraph Lines' is a worthy selling point for this EP.

So overall, although I am a little disappointed, the standard of music on this EP is still high, and it is even better for those who have not heard Dayvan Cowboy before on their last album. I won't be buying any odd Nosdam cds in the near future though.
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on 30 May 2006
BOC have done it again with their dark, layered soundscapes. The moment you put this on you can do nothing but give in, stare into space and imagine beautiful haunting places. Stand out track is skyliner which makes ME think about driving through a city at dusk (when everybody has vanished) one of those cult 80s zombie films. The remix of Dayvan Cowboy is stunning and dramatic. It's all good! Trans Canada Highway is yet another brilliant BOC release and will just leave you wanting more...
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on 13 July 2006
Don't get me wrong, this is a CD that sounds like BoC. It's just that you're not getting very much for your money. I can't see the point at all in having another instance of the same Dayvan Cowboy mix as on The Campfire Headphase, 'cos I can't imagine anyone buying this EP won't already have TCH.

Still, I guess it's a must-purchase for BoC completists.
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on 4 January 2008
Trans Canada Highway is musical perfection.

It sometimes brings tears to the eyes of this thirty seven year old cynic, even though I have heard it countless times. Perhaps that is because I listened to it every time I sat down to read 'Oryx and Crake' on the train ride to work; this EP has become inextricably linked to that story on an emotional level for me and I am full of wonder at the power music can have.

Dayvan Cowboy is one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. Trans Canada Highway has become my most listened to Boards of Canada 'album' and one of my favourite of all time. It never seems to lose its appeal, no matter how many times I hear it. Simply magical.
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on 5 February 2007
This is a good EP. Anyone who criticses the lack of new material is being unfair. The Dayvan Cowboy remix is pretty decent, and Left Side Drive is a nice tune, in the same vein as several "Campfire Headphase" tunes, especially "84 Pontiac Dream". Skyliner is one of the best Boards tunes I have heard. It is worth buying the E.P for this one tune, which would fit well with the deeper, more disturbing sounds on "Geodaddi" and In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country".
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on 26 May 2006
TCH sounds to me like The Campfire Headphase (also abbreviated as TCH so maybe I should stop calling this new EP TCH to avoid confusion) left overs. BoC have said in interviews about how they wrote a shed load of tracks for 'The Campfire Headphase' album before eventually settling on the final track list. The fact that this EP came out less than a year since that release suggests to me that BoC haven't been that busy in the studio - Remixes aside, when was the last time BoC had more than 1 release in the same year?! I suppose if we look on this EP as nothing more than the TCH EP i.e. The Campfire Headphase EP, it will make more sense as a release.

Compared to previous EP's I think BoC fans may be a little disappointed with what's on offer here. Dayvan Cowboy is the feature track but we've already had that on the album. There's also a remix of that track here & both tracks together take up a fair chunk of the total playing time. That leaves room for a couple of new full length tracks + 2 more short interlude style tracks. A lot of people are not so impressed by BoC's 1-2 minute offerings but I really love these & think they help create a nice flow on the albums. They don't seem to work quite so well here but saying that 'Heard from the telegraph lines' is simple, sublime & utterly gorgeous & you wish that it did go on a little longer. The other short track 'Under the coke sign' is nice as well. Very hazy, simple & very BoC. Most people will be most interested in the 2 new full length tracks. First up is 'Left side drive'. This I feel would have worked perfectly on the Campfire Headphase album. It's typical BoC with no surprises but it works & sounds nice so who cares? Next is 'Skyliner' which again is classic BoC & a really nice track on its own merit.

So nothing too spectacular then but I'm of the ilk that says if it's not broke don't fix it. Here BoC are just basically doing their thing without trying to be to clever or out there just for the sake of it or to simply satisfy critics that might now expect them to come up with something groundbreaking with every release. BoC's first full length LP was of course groundbreaking & they clearly carved a niche of their own. They are still in that niche & still churning out wonderful sounding music & long may they continue to do so. Gets five stars from me on musical content but I'm knocking my score down to 4 becasue I feel the EP could have benefitted from 1 or 2 more full length tracks.
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on 20 February 2013
Have most recent albums by BOC - thought would be good to listen to old album of theirs - not disappointed
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on 31 May 2006
BoC become Kraftwerk.

Funkily designed sleeve in the style of an old mini vinyl LP gives us BoC's nod towards Autobahn, and actually it's pretty good!

As with the last album there's a track or two here which could have quite easilly have been left off but yes, well worth a listen.

It's just a shame that they didn't explore the re-mixed track a little further and let it develop as it's disappointingly short.
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