I wasn’t aware that music had rights, and oddly enough, that it had the right to children. This 1998 release from Boards of Canada meant nothing for me for long years, but the past couple of weeks it’s been like an obsession, I’ve been able to keep my listening habits untouched for the most part, but at some point I know I will need to come back to this and get myself lost at this sea of haunting and disturbing memories, distant memories from my childhood that might or might not have been happened, it’s like remembering something through somebody else’s mind.
But just as I start to convince myself that there must be some kind of creepy stuff going in the background, the lights are turned on and the environment suddenly changes to a friendly and warm one. It goes from being a somewhat scary and anxious place to a beautiful, friendly and incredibly vivid one. And all of this happens while I keep telling myself that it is just music, that for some reason this album in particular has the odd ability to trigger all sorts of thoughts and evoke emotions I knew were reserved for other circumstances.
I’m not going to pretend that this took me by surprise though, I know what it feels like to get high to Boards of Canada albums like The Campfire Headphase or Boc Maxima, which are simply spectacular experiences to say the least, if you know what I mean… But this, I’m not sure my mind would be able to keep up, it is simply overwhelming.
Music Has The Right To Children follows the basic rules and structure we’ve been used to in subsequent releases by Boards of Canada. The heavy use of analog synthesizers rather than digital ones, and the intensive use of field recording is as always, a house trademark. I remember thinking about those elements as the culprits for what I used to describe as a cold sound. I couldn’t be more wrong though, it takes some time and the right state of mind to fully understand and appreciate what this kind of music has to offer. I will not fuel the debate about the IDM label this music has (IDM stands for Intelligent Dance Music, a somewhat vague and misleading label), for one simple reason: there’s no such thing as intelligent music (which would imply that there’s also non-intelligent music or that you must achieve some level of intelligence to be able to enjoy it).
Genre and labels aside though, this album blends a mixture of elements that makes you evoke the warm sound of early electronic and ambient music. The analog synthesizers for some reason sound like they fill a lot more space than the use of their digital counterpart, and the use of random bits and pieces of nature and kids tracks, along with a very intensive overlapping of different layers makes for extremely complex tracks. This however isn’t a pretentious experiment filled with whatever was at hand in order to create something that seems complex when there is really none of it, but is rather quite the opposite, you start feeling that everything is simple, and progressively you start to uncover layer after layer, each one more complex than the previous. That’s the point where your mind suddenly explodes in awe.
When I’m in experimentation mode, I like to let the album play from start to finish, it’s certainly the way it was intended in the first place, and the proof is that it just flows effortlessly through your mind, you just need to let go. Considering how complex every track can get, it amazes me that this manages to feel coherent and at the same time as abstract as your mind wants it to be. It’s a different experience every time. And for those times when I’m not feeling like taking the long journey, if I fancy some old school techno, songs like Telephasic Workshop with its powerful beats, or Sixtyten are very good at it. However I’ve found that the more pleasing and puzzling experiences are songs like Olson, Turquoise Hexagon Sun, Aquarius or the incredible Roygbiv. I wish Roygbiv would be a lot longer than its 2 minutes and 30 seconds, it’s the kind of track that you can keep on repeat for days at a time and you can’t seem to be getting enough of it, it’s absolutely ridiculous.
I’ve always wondered about the album title and the general theme the artwork seem to hint. I mean, this album isn’t obviously intended to be enjoyed by children, or is trying to make a statement about them, I’m suspecting it has a lot more to do with evoking memories from childhood, stimulate your subconscious in a way that make you feel the way you used to when you used to visit your favorite playground and stayed there for hours, memories that are so distant now, like some long forgotten dream.
One thing is for sure, this is not just music for your ears, Music Has The Right To Children is also a getaway vehicle for your mind. Use it wisely.