Last Year’s Harvest

January 8, 2014

It is said before this album, Tomorrow’s Harvest, was released, the label invited listeners to go to the desert. And there they played the entire album accompanied by visuals. Even if I haven’t seen any video clips from that scene, the knowledge of it alone has had a great impact on the listening experience.

Prior to this release, Boards of Canada was mostly active before I started listening to electronic music. I regret that I only got to know about them in last June, when suddenly the entire electronic music community was flooded and thrilled by the news of BoC’s return. I couldn’t remember how it felt when listening to the preview, or the full leak. Perhaps didn’t appreciate it too much, that is, compared to today’s feeling. I figure I decided to buy it partially also out of awe for Warp records. But as soon as I got my hand on the hard copy, I couldn’t get it off.

A trumpet opens the curtain and briefly calls for attention. Immediately I’m drawn to the outer space. Everything becomes still. The emergence of the periodic rumbling and the electronic noise on top are as if an approaching old spaceship, gradually covers half of the sight. It then fades to the other side with its unfinished mission. Last December I was supposed to see the Geminids. But the stormy weather didn’t allow this, leaving me with a small sigh.

As I’m pondering over the lost sound, the next second I’m brought down by an earthly power. Reach For the Dead is the one. Isn’t this earth the whole world when I’m down on it. Isn’t this earth so vast and solemn. I’m watching the polar dawn over the ice blue landscape and focusing on the subtle friction. It could be a lone traveller’s dragging leg over the snow. How I love hearing this granular grinding. How I wish to be decomposed to be one particle of that sound. Now, I hear Trance fade in. I think this must be Trance, non other is. Because the slowly but surely rippling sound wave comes to overwhelm my consciousness. There it goes “Listen” – and it intensifies. An un-resting oscillation floating above the silent ground, the memories from the past racing through the present mind, until even the pillars of percussions couldn’t sustain it and give way to the quelling orchestra. This tranquilizing effect must be the work of the force of gravity. As I’m ready to close my eyes in peace, a transient coupling of broken hats keeps my arms reaching out. But I never got hold of anything. read more …

If The Stars Are Eternal

May 25, 2013

Another sleeping beauty awakened.

I used to think the opening track 13 Angels On My Broken Windowsill is the only listenable track. Now it seems likely the conclusion was drawn from the frustration of the un-chewable Go(d)t that follows. So I procrastinated the ordering of this album till a year later – so late that if not BT’s next album is coming out.

After an excursion into the Mount Carmel, it felt better to take a nap with the new CD than to read information theory. So it set off with the familiar soundscape of 13 Angels. The bells ring to the wind and the wind brings it to every corner of the space. Added to that reflective ringing is an absorptive pavement of calmness. It might be reminiscent of the sound design of This Binary Universe. But the incorporation of dubstep paragraph seems to be an emulative protest against this assertion anyone would have in the beginning. I still don’t submit to this blend as I didn’t one year ago. But I don’t know perhaps this brutality is exactly why the ending becomes my favorite part, which is a soulful ascending from the flesh of reckless bassline. A weightless and thoughtful formulation that radiates much more electronic fragrance than those of three minutes ago.

I honestly don’t understand why that flawless ending would fade into this null space of Go(d)t. Better for later research…

Then I thought I dreamt about being waken up by a remote call from the past “It’s okay, just wake up… Wake up!” And the world starts to whirl like a balloon in some unintentional humming notes. The theme of Hymn [808] never cease to repeat itself with only minor yet intriguing glitch tweaks that often occur, adding to the seeming monochrome some kaleidoscopic hues and shades. And of course the joining in of the percussion that manifests itself in a most IDM way makes the whole thing complete.

On a structural level of the entire album, the inclusion of some feet-aiming dance music also reiterates its determination not to be a This Binary Universe Vol. 2. It never hurts to release oneself by some 4/4 beats of Hikari after a trek of inner exploration. Although Seven-Hundred-Thirty-Nine might have been too athletic to fit into a mind seeking for aesthetic pleasure. Thankfully as a law of nature the energetic 739 does not and cannot last very long.

Our Dark Garden is a global maximum of the entire 80 minutes. It begins with the gentlest guitar stream whispering into me and my heartbeat can’t help but to synchronize with it. Then the scene gradually zooms out, leaving one to realize the guitar stream is the only source of warmth in this vastness. But it’s so nice to witness the harmonious dynamics in spite of a bit of coldness. And finally the hopeful vocal comes to mix everything and takes everything away. Yet the seeds containing the light are forever left on earth.

The closing track is a fine mixture of ambient, glitch and mainstream dance music. Overall uplifting, well-carved and shows the opposite of what its title indicates.

See You On The Other Side

December 22, 2012

It’s been five years since the rediscovery of The Antikythera Mechanism, during which I’ve picked up This Binary Universe – the still most mathematically beautiful album so far – for countless times. But it’s been a while I haven’t met with it in a state of shallow subconsciousness in an early morning – when my brain can’t fall asleep again but my eyes are still heavy. Only when I recall now what the state of mind was, how the air smelt and how freezing my body felt, do I realize I was supposed to encounter something new “unexpectedly”. But interestingly, the earphone that I used this time also helped a lot…

Being quite obsessed with “bass boosting” low frequency performance, Apple’s low-end earphone has never come into my sight. But yesternight, thanks to it, with the poor performance in restoring the foundation deep under, making the music slightly abnormally light and thin, I started to notice some gentle grinding on the bottom of my right ear before the long-known sharp upturn of the scratch. On a first thought I just classified it as the sound of thunder from afar that sneaked into my ear and happened to mix into the flow of music seamlessly. As these days, thunders and rains are our regular visitors in the east Mediterranean coast. But holding my breath for a second, the rhythmic pattern emerged, with the granular components resolved (it’s just like the way the kicks are segmented).

The slow dance of wind bells fades in. My heart beats like on tiptoe when a glittering guitar chord passage trickles in, filling the air with serenity, and more serenity. Soon there are the lovely perturbations – the unique glitches made for each individual bar. From here the picture goes dynamic, as if the light of Telperion in Valinor trapped by the tears of the leaves on earth. At some point, the newly discovered fine-tuned rubbing sound rolls in. Once I notice it, the dimension of the space suddenly extends as never before. Up until now the soundscape is far from being lush, but just made out of sparse occurrences of nano sounds rather than continuous textures. Yet it lacks neither depth nor diversity of hues. The second part is dominated by one of the TBU’s most significant characteristics – kicks and bass programming, which has been well explored and enjoyed for years (though I couldn’t say “well explored” forever).

This is my blissful early morning. Another moment I would hold so very close to my heart for eternity.