Boards of Canada is a Scottish electronic music duo consisting of brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin. Known for their distinctive blend of ambient, downtempo, and IDM genres, the band has created some of the most critically acclaimed and influential electronic music of the past few decades. Their sound is characterized by warm, nostalgic, and often melancholic melodies, coupled with lo-fi samples and glitchy beats. Throughout their career, Boards of Canada has released several albums, each featuring a number of standout tracks. Some of their most iconic songs include “Roygbiv,” “Aquarius,” and “Telephasic Workshop,” each of which showcases the duo’s talent for crafting intricate and emotionally charged soundscapes. Other standout tracks include “Music is Math,” “Dayvan Cowboy,” and “Peacock Tail,” all of which are characterized by their hypnotic and otherworldly atmospheres.
Boards of Canada’s music has become synonymous with the ambient and IDM genres, and their songs have influenced countless artists and producers around the world. Their music is a testament to the power of electronic music to create immersive and emotionally resonant soundscapes. With their unique blend of nostalgia, melancholy, and experimentation, Boards of Canada has solidified their place as one of the most innovative and visionary electronic music acts of all time.
“Olson” is a track from the 2002 album “Geogaddi” by Scottish electronic music duo Boards of Canada. The song is characterized by its hazy, dreamlike atmosphere, with lush synths and soft vocal samples creating a sense of nostalgia and introspection. The track begins with a distorted vocal sample that repeats throughout, serving as the backbone of the song’s hypnotic melody. As the track progresses, layers of synths and textures are added, creating a rich and immersive soundscape.
“Roygbiv” is a track from the 1998 album “Music Has the Right to Children” by Boards of Canada. The song’s title is a reference to the colors of the rainbow, with each letter representing a color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). The track is characterized by its bouncy, playful melody, featuring a mix of synth arpeggios, chopped vocal samples, and crunchy drums. The song has become one of Boards of Canada’s most iconic tracks, and is often cited as a classic example of the IDM genre. With its warm and nostalgic feel, “Roygbiv” remains a beloved track for fans of electronic music.
3. Dayvan Cowboy
“Dayvan Cowboy” is a track from the 2005 album “The Campfire Headphase” by Scottish electronic music duo Boards of Canada. The song begins with a gentle guitar melody, slowly building up to a full, lush soundscape featuring shimmering synths and intricate drum patterns. The track is characterized by its blend of electronic and organic elements, with the guitar and drums creating a sense of motion and energy. The song’s title is a reference to the 1960s Western TV show “Gunsmoke,” and the track’s atmospheric soundscapes have a cinematic quality, evoking wide open spaces and epic vistas. The track was accompanied by a memorable music video, featuring a boy on a skateboard riding through a desert landscape, surrounded by visions of otherworldly beings and strange landscapes. The video perfectly captures the dreamlike quality of the song, with its sense of adventure and wonder.
4. Wildlife Analysis
“Wildlife Analysis” is the opening track from the 1998 album “Music Has the Right to Children” by Boards of Canada. The track begins with a sample of a child’s voice, introducing the listener to the world of Boards of Canada’s music. The song’s title is a nod to the band’s fascination with nature and the outdoors, with the track’s gentle, flowing melodies creating a sense of peace and tranquility.
The song features a mix of organic and electronic elements, with acoustic guitar, harp, and flute sounds mixed with chopped vocal samples and intricate drum programming. The track has a nostalgic quality, evoking memories of childhood and the natural world. “Wildlife Analysis” sets the tone for the rest of the album, with its blend of dreamlike soundscapes and intricate production creating a world that is both familiar and otherworldly. The track remains a beloved classic in the world of electronic music, and a testament to Boards of Canada’s unique vision and sound.
5. Peacock Tail
“Peacock Tail” is a beautifully crafted track that showcases the unique style of Boards of Canada. Released in 2005 as part of their album “The Campfire Headphase,” the track starts with a dreamy ambiance of synths and a mellow guitar riff, which gradually builds up into a full-fledged electronic soundscape. The beats and percussion are incredibly intricate, and the layers of synths add a sense of depth and richness to the track. The name of the song is fitting, as it feels like a colorful display of a peacock’s tail feathers, full of intricate patterns and beauty. The track is a perfect example of how Boards of Canada creates a distinct atmosphere through their music. The music takes the listener on a journey, creating a sense of nostalgia and wonder. The melodic progression is captivating and has a relaxing quality to it. It is a track that feels like a warm embrace, and listeners can easily get lost in its beauty.
6. Over The Horizon Radar
“Over The Horizon Radar” is a track that was released by Boards of Canada on their album “Geogaddi” in 2002. The track is a sonic journey through a soundscape that feels both eerie and beautiful at the same time. The opening melody is a haunting chime that sets the mood for the track, which gradually builds up with layers of atmospheric synths, percussion, and sampled vocals.
The track’s overall sound has a dark quality, evoking a sense of mystery and suspense. The use of samples adds an element of realism to the track, making it feel like a journey through the wilderness. The percussion is subtle but adds a rhythmic drive to the track, giving it a sense of urgency.
As with most Boards of Canada tracks, “Over The Horizon Radar” has a nostalgic quality to it. The music feels like a trip down memory lane, invoking a sense of childhood memories or lost moments in time. The overall sound is captivating, and the track is a perfect example of how Boards of Canada creates a unique atmosphere with their music.
7. Everything You Do Is A Balloon
“Everything You Do Is A Balloon” is one of the most beloved and revered songs in the Boards of Canada discography. The song’s signature sound comes from its use of warbling, lo-fi synth textures that give the impression of old tapes or transmissions from another time. The song is built around a hypnotic drum loop and layers of lush synths that evolve and shift over its nine-minute runtime. The song’s title is a reference to the idea that everything we do, every action we take, leaves an imprint in the universe. The song has a dreamlike quality, with its floating synths and washes of reverb creating an otherworldly atmosphere. The song was released on Boards of Canada’s 1998 EP, “Hi Scores”, and has since become a fan favorite. Its distinctive sound has been influential in the electronic music community, and it remains a highlight of the band’s live performances. “Everything You Do Is A Balloon” is a testament to the Boards of Canada’s ability to create immersive, transportive soundscapes that stick with the listener long after the song has ended.
“Aquarius” is a standout track from Boards of Canada’s 2002 album, “Geogaddi”. The song begins with a gentle, undulating synth melody that sets a peaceful, contemplative mood. As the song progresses, layers of percussion, guitar, and synth are added, building to a lush, textured climax. The song’s title refers to the astrological sign Aquarius, which is associated with themes of innovation, humanitarianism, and nonconformity.
The song’s central melody is built around a sample from the 1970s educational program “Inside/Outside,” which features a woman singing a simple, repetitive tune. Boards of Canada manipulates this sample, warping and stretching it into a hypnotic, endlessly looping motif. The song has a dreamlike quality, with its drifting synths and hypnotic rhythms creating a sense of weightlessness.
Like much of Boards of Canada’s music, “Aquarius” has a nostalgic quality, evoking memories of childhood and the natural world. The song’s intricate layering and attention to detail reward repeated listens, revealing new textures and nuances with each listen. “Aquarius” is a testament to Boards of Canada’s ability to create immersive, transportive soundscapes that are both soothing and thought-provoking.
9. In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country
“In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country” is the title track of Boards of Canada’s 2000 EP. The track features a slow, hazy, and dreamlike melody that is instantly recognizable as the signature sound of Boards of Canada. The song starts with the sounds of birds chirping and a gentle piano melody. The tempo is slow and relaxed, with each sound and note allowed to breathe and linger. The track builds gradually, with layers of ambient sounds and textures slowly emerging, before resolving in a serene and peaceful climax. The track’s use of analog synthesizers and samples, along with its hypnotic rhythms and ethereal melodies, creates a sense of otherworldliness that is characteristic of Boards of Canada’s music.
10. Turquoise Hexagon Sun
“Turquoise Hexagon Sun” is a track from Boards of Canada’s 1998 album “Music Has The Right To Children”. The song’s hazy, dreamlike atmosphere is created by the use of reverb and tape delay effects, along with the distinctive use of analog synthesizers and vintage drum machines. The track starts with a simple, looping melody, which gradually builds in intensity as layers of ambient textures and sounds are added. The song’s hypnotic rhythms and ethereal melodies create a sense of drifting through time and space. The track’s use of natural sounds, such as bird songs and water samples, adds to its dreamlike quality. “Turquoise Hexagon Sun” is a standout track in the Boards of Canada catalog, and its use in popular culture, such as in the TV show “Breaking Bad”, has helped to introduce the band’s music to a wider audience.