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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Campfire Headphase
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71 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2005
Format: Audio CD
It was inevitable. From the post rock experimentation on the In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country EP to the 'dirtier' tracks on Geogaddi, the signs were there. Then, endorsement of Bibio's folktronica and some very psychedelic remix work for Beck and others occured. We all should have known that this is how The Campfire Headphase would turn out. Heck, what else does one play around the campfire? Certainly not rusting analogue synths. I think Dayvan Cowboy is the best song on the album. The fact that it sounds nothing like Boards of Canada is besides the point. Including that song, the album is My Bloody Valentine/Incredible String Band/Tortoise with electronic textures and soft beats. Haven't listened to those groups? You should - they're all good, and they've all influenced BOC's sound from the beginning. If it was anyone else but BOC, we'd all be saying it's a sublime, understated masterpiece. The point is this - you experiment, or you repeat. The best musicians make music for themselves, and if they get some fans, so much the better. We didn't really want Music Has The Right To Children (Part 2), and so this progression of an album is what we have. I may not enjoy every track on The Campfire Headphase, but I have to respect BOC's artistic vision - the sound is dense and alluring, and the flow of the whole is nearly seamless. Thank you BOC, for expanding your horizons, and ours.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"The Campfire Headphase" is an exceptional release but it is far from a 5/5 album. Really, folks...we're all excited after such a long wait but do keep in mind the conotation of a perfect score. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 7.

A few notes:

The introduction of guitar is, despite some opinions, a nice way for BoC to avoid parodying themselves. BoC simpy could not have made another wholly synth/sample album and gone much further out. While creativity has no bounds, being rooted in such a signature sound as that of the mighty Boards does create some very narrowing criteria this faar down their road. While I wouldn't go as far as to compare this album to Bob Dylan going electric, the acoustic/organic feel of TCHp will be the hardest element for some to adjust to.

There are a handful of new "classics" here but few with quite the same level of crushing timelessness as previous albums. As a "single, unified listening experience," TCHp holds up well. It is consistent, warm and nice. Put it on and let it loop while you paint, draw or just stare out the window. Still, songs do tend to meander longer than in the past. While BoC has always proved kings of the solidly built yet simple and enthralling electronic song, many of the tracks here seem to get lost in their own loose discipline. While it's just as easy to blissfully zone out to, there is much less here to snap you from your frosty coma and recognize when a particularly good bass bomb or synth chime has struck just that much deeper.

Should you buy it? Sure, so long as it's not your first BoC purchase. After about ten listens, I am of the opinion that it's certainly a fine work but it is not a towering work such as their previous two.

Some argue that they simply 'went mellow' on this one but that doesn't really fish. What really differentiates this album from the other two is not a gain of Zen but a certain loss of darkness. Albeit a fine, nostalgic joyride, it can be argued that, with "The Campfire Headphase," BoC have cranked their backward time machine past the awkward unease of the 70s and into a blissed-out 60s hippie commune. You still get the faded Polaroid flashback, just not as much of that dear, sad bittersweetness.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2005
Format: Audio CD
What many reviewers seem to miss with this album, and almost anything by BoC, is that the music was written by, and most likely for, synaesthesists; i.e. those of us that taste shapes, feel sounds, and/or smell colors.

I am not certain if BoC are synaesthetic or not (although their song titles lead me to believe this), but they are the only musicians that I have discovered with the uncanny knack to capture colors and shapes within their music so effortlessly and to express it in a such a confined space. This album consists of subtle hues of greens and blues, with yellow highlights, that permeate through sunlit windows, with golden, soft velvet curtains, illuminating the lazy particles of dust hanging in a cold haze.

The Campfire Headphase is defintely a step up from Geogaddi (not that Geogaddi is a bad album but it was not as enveloping as their previous EPs and album) and feels more like the natural progression from Music Has a Right To the Childen. This is one of those albums that I would only recommend to a few people - not because it is bad, but because I know that the majority of listeners would never understand and never truly appreciate the experience that is brought to the mind when listening to it.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2006
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
All Hail mighty BoC! Oh. Hang on. This sounds different. Boo! Boo! Down with BoC!

-pretty much the response this album got on release. The cutting phrase 'Least great album' was bandied about. Gotta admit, I felt that way too. Gone was the lofty shimmer of Geogaddi and MHTRTC.

Anyway, I'm glad I waited six months before writing this review, because 'Campfire Headphase' has grown on me in an gradual, organic way, like a tasty mushroom. As a really good album should. The thing I initially liked least, I now like best: the contrast. MHTRTC was crystalline music - icy and measured. Geogaddi followed that with a kind of spooky-movie feel - very dense, very unsettling, sort of David Lynch-y. So far, so "cool"

Now think about words like 'warm', 'organic', 'rich'. Not so traditionally "cool" in concept, huh? Ditto 'guitar' in the IDM world, right? Obviously, still with lots of crackly synths and woozy warbles. The change takes some getting used to, but now I'm loving this album, end to end. Ok, then, enough banter: to specifics

Dayvan Caravan is magnificent, possibly my favorite BoC track ever. An enormously long build up unfolds to a surging orchestral/murky choir theme with a trademark 'just so' melody bleeped on top of that. How in the world do BoC take 5 bare notes of melody and make them into an emotional epic?

Tracks like Satellite Theme Icarus & Ataronchronon are actually more representative of the mood, though - with the sound of gentle waves in the mix and a calming reflective feel. Think of people on a beach, sipping banana daquiri's as the sun sets. Robot people.

It's also an album of phases: there's an georgeous wind-down in the last three tracks, each more sparse and languid than the last, until the gentle hushed chords of Firewell Fire either send me to sleep, make me hit play again or force me to finally get on with some work, depending on my environment. But while the album's playing, I'm living in BoC's (for once) warm & welcoming world.

anyway, if this direction sounds scary to you - watch out. The duo (brothers, as it turns out) have threatened an entirely acoustic album in the future. I'll be the one person looking forward to that, then.
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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I get it...I finally get it. It's no wonder that BOC's Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin (Sandison) have revelead they are brothers. It takes two people from the same genetic gene pool to make music THIS GOOD. After listening to their latest masterwork, The Campfire Headphase, I now understand what BOC's music is meant to portray. I believe that Boards' music is a virtual road map of the human soul. Each new album and release Boards puts out is a musical representation of a particular stage in human exisitence. The Campfire Headphase represents "adulthood". Follow me for an interesting ride.

Music Has The Right To Children in 1998 was BOC's seminal work. It was their first official LP. Through inference of the title, this album represented "childhood". Each song has a rustic, analog feel to it. The album is replete with children laughing, saying "I love you" (Color of the Fire), learning shapes (Triangles and Rhombuses) and counting with the teacher in elementary school (Aquarius). There are references to educational films and public television (One Very Important Thought). Even "Telephasic Workshop" is a play on words as compared to The Children's Television Workshop, who brought us childhood classics such as Sesame Street and The Electric Company. MHTRTC contains tons of samples from these two shows.

Music... is Boards' universally worshipped album because so many adult listeners discovered it in their late 20's and 30's, when their formerly optimisic youthful lives had become sad, corrupted and mired in work, bills and bad relationships. This album reminds us of the tender, innocent, happy childhood we lost yet is not too late to recapture.

This brings us to Geogaddi in 2002, BOC's second, most controversial, and the most polarized amongst their fans. The reason why is simple--Geogaddi represents "adolescence" and young adulthood, say between 13 and 28 or so, a good 15-year period. Geogaddi's music is intrusive, in your face and agressive, like a teenager enraged with hormones, confused and aroused by his newborn sexuality. The music is powerful, crisper, and braver than the previous album yet intentionally pretentious and insecure, reminiscent of a teen's false bravado in his/her attempts to lure a sexual partner. Titles like "Julie and Candy", "Beware the Friendly Stranger" implies sexual predation and curiosity. "Opening the Mouth" and "You Can Feel The Sky" refer to the intense feelings of losing one's virginity. Young people are now in high school or college, learing more advanced and complex subject matters, such as mathematics, music and formulas (Music is Math, The Smallest Weird Number, A is to B as B is to C, Dandelion). The childhood represented in MHTRTC is now disgusting to the adolescent know-it-all in Geogaddi. One can't wait to bid childhood "bye, bye, bye, byeeeeee..." as in Sunshine Recorder. In fact, you'd better "record" bits and pieces of your childhood "sunshine" or they will be gone forever. BOC did and that's why MHTRTC was so great in recording childhood sensations. Keep in mind, teenagers and college students feel they are at an age where they feel the world revolves around them. The very name "Geogaddi" means "to revolve around the world TWICE". Teens must be so vain, eh? Fans recommended to "play [Geogaddi] TWICE before listening". It is at this time in our lives that we may experiement with drugs or become entrenched with unsavory company, such as cults, as evidenced by so many references to subliminals, Satanists and Branch Dividians (The Devil is in the Details, 1969, etc.) "Gyroscope" takes the innocent number counting of "Aquarius" and subverts it into a perverse, schizophrenic parody of number-obession. BOC endured a lot criticism by fans, as they interpreted Geogaddi to have lost that "warm sound" and suffered a sophomore's jinx. Geogaddi gave so many listeners an awkward, angry experience, reminding them of unpleasant adolescent memories, triggering sensitive moments of dread, sexual shame and rebellion. These are the haters of Geogaddi. Others are reminded of young acheivement, sexual conquest and higher learning. These are the lovers of Geogaddi. I tend toward the middle, leaning toward the hating side. My life sucked between 12 and 30, especially in romance and finance. Geogaddi nails each angry, black, self-loathsome feeling I ever experienced with spades. I hate them for planting the mirror to my face, exposing my flaws to the world yet love them for doing so in order to learn to love and heal myself and thusly prepare me for the next ablum...The Campfire Headphase.

The Campfire Headphase represents solid adulthood--your 30's and 40's. Like the Sandison brothers, many people at this stage of life are married, and/or have children. They may have secure jobs and prefer a Netflix night rather than a wild night of clubbin' and sluttin'. Geogaddi's music was electric and virile, like the pompous high school football star. Headphase's music is acoustic, organic and mellow, like getting stoned by a campfire. The initials of this album is TCH, which could very well be an anagram of THC. The biggest obsevation about this album is its use of guitars (or clever guitar samples). Those who complain about the guitars (which are only noticable on a handful of tracks) do not understand that acoustics-a-la-Music70 were going to be a natural progression of Boards' music. To make a sequel to MHTRTC would have been a lazy, backwards decision. To create "Music Part 2" would have invalidated Geogaddi completely, reducing it as a self-indulgent mistake (some obtuse fans wouldn't mind this outcome). There was no way Mike and Marcus was going to allow that to happen. TCH had to be mellow in order to allow us to contemplate the harshness of the near-indigestible Geogaddi and to fully appreciate how beautiful, and necessary that album was to understand ourselves. Every time I listen to TCH, Geogaddi becomes even more special. You have to take the sweet and the harsh, as in Boards of Canada and as in life. You don't really understand that lesson until you are in your 30's. God bless you Boards for guiding me through that lesson. When I heard Peacock Tail, I understood everything...why I went through the type of life I've led so far, the smart decisions and foolish mistakes I've made in my life and why my childhood sounded like MHTRTC and why my teens and 20's felt like Geogaddi. Peacock Tail is the only Boards song other than Aquarius that made me cry on the first listen.

TCH is an album of crisp, digital music. It feels almost like BOC in high-def surround sound. The way the BOC-brothas equalize and alter their music envelops me and a warm sea glass cocoon. Every song feels like subliminal line noise is dancing through them, as if my headphones are too close to my wall and I can hear random radio singals through the electral outlet. My favorite tune as of this writing is Slow This Bird Down, not for its melody or message, but just for sheer technique. How is it possbile that a song transmutes itself into a scratchy, broken radio transmission? Constants and Changing uses the EQ to mess with your ears; parts are muffled, others are pronounced. Your ears are fighting to pick up something precise in the song, like an amorphous signal from outer space. Brilliant. This album celebrates the freedom, leisure and self-assuredness of adulthood (A Moment of Clarity, '84 Pontiac Dream) but also reminds us that this period of life still brings heartbreak and sadness. Farewell Fire is the one of the most heartwrenching and saddest pieces I have ever heard--a 21st Century version of Albonini's Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ. Eveytime I hear this piece I think of the only woman to ever break my heart twice and how the pain still manages to linger to this day (you know who you are, Michelle...) This song also has possibly the longest fade out in the history of man.

Guitars are nothing new with this album. BOC has been using analog instrumentation long before the Twoism days. I have a friend in Ireland who managed to get a hold a copy of two unreleased BOC demo cassettes and a copy of the almost-mythical Acid Memories from 1989. Yes, these tapes are authentic. No, you won't get a copy from me or online. This music is not even on any file-sharing programs and trust me, I have 'em all. You won't find them on the internet, period. Based on these unreleased recordings, these cats have had the guitar down cold for a long time. TCH is the perfection of organic experimentation. Chromakey Dreamcoat and Hey Saturday Sun are examples as such. Even the crunchy "squeaks" from the guitar strings are sampled to the point of being part of the beat sequence. The guitar riffs on Chromakey are so deconstructed, that they sound more like a Japanese shamisen rather than the former instrument. You can listen to this song forever and that's why Boards slams the brakes on this song at the end, snapping you out of a surreal hypnosis. It is already a fact that Boards have been influenced by psychedlic acts like The Incredible String Band. The Band's flutes and guitars have been sampled by Boards on Geogaddi and before.

Those who dismiss this work as inferior to MHTRTC have completely missed the point. Listen. Everyone, mark my lips...There will NEVER EVER be another album like MHTRTC! There I said it. Just like there will never be another Michael Jordan, Malcom X, Nikola Tesla or Jimi Hendrix, we will never see another BOC album like Music...so stop wishing for it. Everything Boards cranks out to the public is equally beautiful in thankfully different ways. Their sound is evolving at an exponential basis, drawing ideas and motifs from their previous works and transmuting them into newer, greater and more complex masterpieces. I'm not surprised that BOC needs months to work on one song...and years just to make one full length CD. That's how insanely layered their music is. I never trust any artist that jams out a CD of new material every year containing crap that fans want to hear. True artists make music for solely themselves. If he or she gets a couple of fans along the way, all the better. Artists are also idiosyncratically selfish because they are dissatisfied with the current paradigm of their genre's art. They naturally crave to create something that is self-authored, bringing the satisfaction of creating something intimate and beautiful. BOC are just hitting the 3rd gear on their supercharged Minimoogs. I predict based on their musical progression that there will be two more full albums before they call it quits forever. The next album will highlight middle-aged life and be released around 2008-2009 and their final album will face old age, death and the transition around 2012. The circle will be complete, or is it the "Hexagon"?

This is my longest review and I hope you survived it. If I bored you to tears and you hate my review, so be it; that is your right. If reading this made you a better Boards of Canada fan, then let's go "Happy Cycling" together. This is a great album and it will take me until the next album to fully understand it. We can no longer call Boards of Canada "electronic" artists. They are in a unique category with no equal, but with many wannabees. "Analog-Synthetic Musical Digitalization and Enhancement" is the closest 'genre' I can think of for Boards of Canada, a coy, brilliant duo that now belongs to no genre. 5 stars once again, Mike and Marcus. Don't stop making music for yourselves and thank you for another incredible journey in my headphones.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Dreamy psychedelic atmospherics drenched in a syrup of hazy sonic degradation backed with ever engaging beats and melancholy chords and melodies. I appreciate the evolution of this band, as well as their relentless drive to remain true to their artistic vision rather than pander to the whims of a fickle audience. Guitars are more prevalent, but as other reviewers have noted, BOC have always employed many traditional instruments in their music. Why this should be perceived as a negative by some is a mystery to me. I've got every BOC release I could get my hands on, and this one is no less or more than any of the others. It stands on its own, yet fits in nicely with the whole. It gives me goosebumps, and speaks to the part of me that can hear trees talk, or merge into a bedspread amongst a tingling array of electric hexagonal mandalas, finally peeling the ventral half around the spherical surface of an incomprehensible void, followed by fits of uncontrollable laughter.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I don't see where the addition of guitars into BoC's music is a bad thing. At all. I don't think it adds or dectracts from their style. I like it. I have listened to most of their other songs, and this is just another really great album. Boards of Canada are one of the best bands ever. They have managed to take their darker emotions and turn them into something staggeringly beautiful. I don't think there is another band that does that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
The Campfire Headphase manages to be a unique BOC album, while keeping their trademark style. Yes, it is more simple than previous music by the duo, but it still manages ot stay interesting

The album kicks off with Into The Rainbow Vein, a nice introduction with a soothing synth pattern.

Next is Chromakey Dreamcoat, which at first listen, seems to have an awkward guitar, though quickly, it works well with the background sounds and beat. It's one of my favourite tracks.

Satellite Anthem Icarus is a very slow, soothing track. It is atmospheric chill out music, and a good song

Another highlight, Peacock Tail follows with a simple, effective riff. It keeps building up to a climatic finish, and is a beautiful track.

To continue the trend of excellent tracks, Dayvan Cowboy starts off sounding distant, with a quite tambourine rythem. Then, 2 minutes into the song breaks into a catchy riff, then what follows is another buildup of percussion, background synth and strings in the background. On a par with Peacock tail as my favourite track.

To follow the 4 drum centred tracks, A Moment Of Clarity is a simple filler with echoey synth. a nice contrast.

'84 Pontiac Dream is a repetitive track and has a simillar feel to music has the right to children. still, a little boring

Sherbet Head follows as a long filler, but keeps entertaining. A nice, calming filler with a nice fade out.

then, Oscar See Through Red Eye, another percussion based track follows.... A little too simple and long. the synth flurries keep the track reletavely interesting, but one of the low points.

Ataronchronon, a distant filler which isn't amazingly good, but is just short enough and keeps up the good standard of fillers in The Campfire Headphase.

Hey Saturday Sun another long track which has a simple riff. It is a little too long though, and not much happens to keep the listener interested

Constants Are Changing, is a nice filler again. with a simple riff and distant synth

Slow This Bird Down, the final track with percussion, quiet and slow, but has a dark synth synth pattern, with a feeling simillar to some tracks on geogaddi. but it is a good song

Tears From The Compound Eye is a long 4 minute filler, but it is such a sample amd it has a nice echoey feel, so it almost ends to soon.

Farewell Fire is the last track, which has a simmilar feel to Tears From The Compound Eye and is a massive 8 1/2 minutes long with a tune that takes 15 or so seconds to finish, and loop again. It slowly fades out till the end and though a nice song, should have been about 2 minutes

overall, i think the album is Up there with MHTRTC & Geogaddi and is boards of canada's most consistant album, and most boards of canada fans won't be dissapointed.

9/10
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Those who know Boards of Canada, love them for their unique ability to turn simple synthetic tones into neo-classical ambient masterpieces of nostalgia. Up until now, the BoC sound was created entirely electronically, with effects, samples and dialog mixed in over the top where it worked best.

"The Campfire Headphase", however, is the duo's first foray into the realm of warm acoustic guitar samples; mixed gently and ever-so-emotionally over the top of summery synthetic soundscapes and slow lazy beats. Keeping their trademark sound, Boards Of Canada deliberately add a timeless texture to the music through subtle distortions and imperfections, making the music sound like it is being played on an old, many-times-dubbed cassette recorder.

Very much unlike Geogaddi, something about the songs on this album transport me to fading memories of glare-y, lazy, summer days and hot, quiet summer nights. The tracks are uplifting and catchy, yet timeless in a very nostalgic, and therefore almost melancholic sense. A couple of these tracks have brought tears to my eyes. Other times I have studied to these tracks, slept while the album plays on repeat, driven with it on in the car, and just sat around with them in my head all day, never once tiring of the tunes. I love this album so much, and the most stand-out tracks would have to be "Dayvan Cowboy", followed by "Peacock Tail" and "Satellite Anthem Icarus". Because the real climax of the album is over within the first 5 tracks, doesn't mean the rest of the album is dull however. The CD takes you on an almost conceptual journey though the warmer, technicolour tones of the rainbow.

Those of you who are curious, new-arrivals, or those who want to introduce a loved one to this genre of music this Christmas: I strongly encourage you to purchase this album: discover one of the world's most belovedly mysterious musical secrets for yourself, while they are displaying their warmest and most inviting moods. Every track has something special about it, and the songs are most appreciated as a whole album. It may be a late arrival, but it certainly makes my top 5 albums for this year.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD
"Dayvan Cowboy" was the only song I had heard by Boards of Canada before I bought this cd, so I can't place its musical merit in the context of their earlier work. But I can tell you that the album drew me in right away, and that it has a distinct character to it that manages to be both quirky and beautiful.

Most of the songs are an ethereal wash of synthesizers with just enough guitar and percussion to keep them from drifting totally into vapor. Those with heavier percussion and sound effects have a kind of lush, rich feel to them. I can see how songs like this could easily wander around into nowhere, but each one has a developed structure and therefore paints a complete picture, often a liquid landscape, or sends us drifting through an alien ocean. I adore it. This is the kind of music that I think is perfect for driving in the mornings, when the sunrise over the interstate is so gorgeous that I almost wreck my car. But really, any time will do; the music has a very fluid, transportative quality. Enjoying this album so much makes me regret not having discovered Boards of Canada sooner; I look forward to retracing their musical steps, but I'm sure this cd will have a permanent seat in the glovebox whether or not the earlier works create such a marvelous atmosphere. I would recommend this album to anyone who can enjoy a song without words.
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