Review of The Campfire Headphase Album by Boards of Canada

Boards of Canada
The Campfire Headphase
Warp Records
Album Review

It has been just over three years now since Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin, the Scottish brothers who make up Boards of Canada, released their slightly sinister and insanely complex Geogaddi. Now the wait is over and they give us The Campfire Headphase. The mystery that has surrounded the duo since their introduction almost a decade ago merely adds fuel to the anticipation of their fans on the release of this quietly different album. The title hints at the folky dreaminess we can expect from this new offering, and whereas previous material from Boards of Canada has the ability to completely knock the stuffing out of listeners' buzzed out little brains, Campfire Headphase tranquilly grasps the imagination by the hand and leads it through a labyrinth of palpitating acid-soaked beats.
Into the Rainbow Vein is a fitting name for the opening track of the record as it hints at the strangely narcotic sounds that are to follow. From the cosy guitar strains of Chromakey Dreamcoat, which truly does make you feel like you're wrapped in a blanket of dreams, to the undulating acoustic swirl of Satellite Anthem Icarus, the listener is slowly led into a magical world of bittersweet sonic texture. Decadence and richness drip from the bass of Peacock Tail whilst alien voices and xylophone sounds uncannily tug at the heart-strings and keep the track in constant motion. Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin's love of 70s sci-fi is ever present and the futuristic nostalgia of 84 Pontiac Dream allows the listener yet more aural indulgence and leaves a whiff of the long lost psychedelic treats of Pink Floyd and Tambourine Dream.
The careful and dramatic structuring of Dayvan Cowboy, the innocent gleefulness of Hey Saturday Sun and the final, crashing spectacle that is Farewell Fire are all part of the audio trip that is Campfire Headphase. Whilst some die-hard Boards of Canada fans may be displeased at Sandison and Eoin's meander into (dare I compare?) M83 or Four Tet territory, I have been truly won over by the unusual beats and atmospheric narcotic qualities that Headphase possesses. My recommendation is to lie back and drift away on the wonderfully weird journey that this record will take you on. Drugs? Who needs 'em. Gather round and let your head enter a new phase.

Roz Jones

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