Trying To Move Beyond My Campfire Headphase....
July 24, 2011 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Complete This Series: Boards of Canada, Tycho, ....., ....., .........

I am completely in awe of bands like Boards of Canada, Tycho, etc. - electronica bands with that flat affect, analog, slightly warbly tone with a delicious break beat or drony drum thing happening.

Please help me find similar music, as it seems BoC takes dog years in releasing new material.

Thanks in advance!
posted by Lipstick Thespian to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
You might like Black Moth Super Rainbow--detuned analog synths, lo-fi nostalgia (especially evident in earlier releases).
posted by retronic at 7:45 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Previous Ask MeFi thread. Of the groups mentioned, I listen most to DJ Shadow, Friends of Dean Martinez, Ulrich Schnauss. All are somewhat "softer" than Boards of Canada.
posted by lukemeister at 7:48 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

A good example of BMSR's BoC vibe: The Primary Color Movement
posted by retronic at 7:51 PM on July 24, 2011

Response by poster: great suggestions, although I have both BMSR and Ulrich Schnauss. Keep 'em coming! :)
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:53 PM on July 24, 2011

Emancipator, Flavens, Freeworm Lemon Jelly, Fila Brazilia, Pepe Deluxe, Prefuse 73 (somewhat).
posted by mreleganza at 7:56 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sarin Sunday (Youtube playlist).
This is one of many projects by Seth Haley, whose most well-known moniker is Com Truise (Youtube link), which also affects a lot of 80's inspired analog electronics, but with more uptempo, less trip-hop beats.

If you ask me, this is fanboy music that just seeks to imitate and regurgitate the BoC or the 80's analog nostalgia aesthetic and it is artistically shallow and poor, but it is well done and pleasant for a listen or two.
posted by jchgf at 8:27 PM on July 24, 2011

Cornelius; Two Lonely Swordsman; maybe Phantogram... RJD2... Amon Tobin... Arovane.

and i'll say Prefuse 73 (somewhat) as well.
posted by stratastar at 8:31 PM on July 24, 2011

posted by stratastar at 8:32 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

That should be Two Lone Swordsmen, by the way.
posted by mreleganza at 8:46 PM on July 24, 2011

Best answer: For British bands with a retro synth gaze, you might like Belbury Poly, especially the first album ("The Willows") and other material on the Ghost Box label. "Mind How You Go" by The Advisory Circle perhaps (the link is to a revised version of the title track on that record, when it was reissued with extra material). The Advisory Circle is one of the stronger musicians associated with Ghost Box and the guy behind it used to record as King of Woolworths, where there is certainly a Boards strain from time to time.

I'm personally very partial to ISAN in the gentle analog synth (OK, they used MS2000s) mould. Some YouTube uploads.
posted by galaksit at 8:48 PM on July 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Explosions in the Sky seems like an obvious choice.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Guessing you already know Seefeel, since they're both on Warp Records. But for anyone else, they are terrific.
posted by sub-culture at 9:26 PM on July 24, 2011

N.Ln - Astronomy For Children is sort of in a similar vein. Lackluster might also be up your alley.
posted by aubilenon at 9:49 PM on July 24, 2011

Best answer: Oh man, so much to recommend here. I think that a lot of the recommendations that come up with this question miss the mark -- either too heavy or too dark to really match the magic of BoC. I find BoC and Tycho operate within a very specific, nostalgia-soaked sound. Here are some of my recommendations:

Lone - Emerald Fantasy Tracks -- Although Lone's beats are more Detroit than breakbeat inspired, this album perfectly captures a sort of BoC-meets-Hawaii feel. I have had the track The Birds Don't Fly This High on constant repeat for the past few months -- it's my summer jam. Just try to imagine BoC on the beaches of Kauai. Can't recommend highly enough.

Casino vs. Japan - Go Hawaii -- More on the Hawaii tip. CvJ often does more ambient work, but this album has him copping a full-on BoC vibe. It's Very Sunny even comes complete with requisite child-voice samples. Actually saw CvJ give a rare performance on the same bill with Tycho, if you need further comparative evidence.

Bibio - Fi -- Recent Bibio albums have seen him careening into strange dance-music territory, but his first (and, in my opinion, best) album was frequently described as "Boards of Canada with guitars." Most of the album is beatless, but some tracks still have a bit of a drive to them -- see, for example, the beautifully glazed Lakeside

Helios - Unomia -- Another artist who has gone through a bit of a shift -- his recent stuff, though wonderful, is much more acoustic than his earlier stuff. This album, though, fits snuggly in the right category, as evidenced by tracks such as Nine Black Alps. He also gets points for doing the best Boards of Canada cover I've ever heard: Melissa Juice

Boom Bip - Seed to Sun -- Oh, just listen to the first track, and you'll see why I've listed this. More important, though, if you've never heard it, you need to check out BoC's stunning remix of Last Walk Around Mirror Lake.

christ. - Distance Lends Enchantment to the View -- So, in addition to creating one of the best album titles ever, christ. has the added advantage of once actually being a member of BoC -- he worked the brothers early on before going solo. I went through a period of being totally obsessed with the synth break in the song Harbin Ice.

skalpel - skalpel -- This may be too jazzy for what you're looking for (not surprising for early Ninja Tune), but the album definitely has moments that cross into the right territory, like the track Sculpture, which always makes me think of dawn.

Yeah, so you stumbled into a bit of an obsession of mine -- hopefully you'll find something up there that you like. Incidentally, a good place to find more recommendations that might fit the bill is Tycho (aka Scott Hansen)'s blog, ISO50. I get a little frustrated with the retro-70s schtick they seem to be stuck in there, but you might find some stuff you like floating around.
posted by TheRoach at 11:04 PM on July 24, 2011 [11 favorites]

Casino vs. Japan
posted by j03 at 11:06 PM on July 24, 2011

expanding on TheRoach, there's a Lone side project called "Kona Triangle" - talk about BoC meets hawaii... wow. i think i like Kona Triangle better than Lone. (the album is called 'Sing a New Sapling Into Existence)

Kona Triangle - Airlock

also in the "heavier" category is Principles of Geometry... but hey, Tobacco recommended them so, yeah.

Principles of Geometry - A Mountain for President
posted by joeblough at 11:42 PM on July 24, 2011

In the "I can't believe it's not BoC" stakes, there's always Saturday Index, whose 2007 EP "Partly Cloudy" is a free net download. Check out "Rainbow Kaleidoplex" and "Ketring Lake" in particular.

Also: Newcastle Upon Tyne-based electronic musician Ochre also does cool stuff in this vein. Check out "Brancaster Coast."
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:04 AM on July 25, 2011

Washed Out - representative of the "Chillwave" genre - reminds me a lot of Music has the Right to Children.
posted by hnnrs at 1:38 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

You might try the netlabel Archaic Horizon; Orange Crush is particularly Boardsy. They haven't been active for a year though.
posted by doiheartwentyone at 3:06 AM on July 25, 2011

Best answer: I guess it's up to me to say I can't believe no one's mentioned Ciaran Byrne, who puts all other BOC-alikes to shame.

Also, I can't stand Tycho fwiw
posted by O9scar at 4:35 AM on July 25, 2011

I think some of the chillwave stuff could fit the bill. especially in terms of being BoC in spirit. But, and people might think I'm way off, but I get that BoC feeling from the atmosphere in Burial's music. Sounds completely different, but the warped out vocal samples and perpetual background atmos reminds me of geogaddi era BoC.


Near Dark

posted by Smegoid at 4:42 AM on July 25, 2011

Victor Bermon's album Arriving at Night.

The Books can be a lot more frenetic than BoC but have some amazing tracks that you're likely to enjoy.
posted by telegraph at 6:19 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like Arp.
posted by box at 10:09 AM on July 25, 2011

There's a lot of that warped/distressed lo-fi electro aesthetic in the Witch House / Drag genre - check out some of the awesome mixtapes put out by Pendu Disco, among others. At the moment, just googling 'Witch House Mix' will get you hours and hours of selections.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:49 AM on July 25, 2011

Nightmares on Wax
The Black Dog
Global Communication
Kruder & Dorfmeister
Urban Tribe
Casino Versus Japan
Four Tet
Ulrich Schnauss
Howie B
Mouse on Mars
Air Liquide
posted by hworth at 2:27 PM on July 25, 2011

And, there is a local St. Louis artist that sometimes sounds like Boards of Canada:
Ra Cailum
posted by hworth at 2:32 PM on July 25, 2011

For the lazy, here are some Ciaran Byrne tracks:
Ode to Able Sail
Curtain Moon

Also, here's Airliner:
posted by O9scar at 4:05 PM on July 26, 2011

Response by poster: This has turned into a fantastic thread - lots and lots of goodness up above, kids. My question - how do BoC MAKE that flatlined retro synth sound? What is the actual hardware you need to do it? I love that warped synth, love love love it - where does it come from?
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:30 PM on July 29, 2011

it is not a matter of hardware, but of soul...
posted by paradroid at 8:02 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

The brothers are notoriously secretive, but the reveal at least some of their technique this interview.

As for specific gear, that's the subject of much speculation.

I realize I just linked twice to - you should go spend a bunch of time there if you haven't already.
posted by O9scar at 11:06 PM on July 30, 2011

One of my favorite BoC quotes on there process comes from an interview in HMV. Here's the excerpt that I adore:

"Mike: It's a mix of old and new technology. About half of our kit is old gnarly broken gear, and the other half is pretty new stuff. We have a lot of cheap instruments, it's like a junkshop. The best way I'd describe it is that our sound sources are almost always something like a real instrument or an analog synth, and our recording techniques and processes are a bit unorthodox. We don't like using digital things or computer effects so we get sounds by doing things like running whole parts through a really bad tape recorder or something like that. Like the intro on 'Julie and Candy' for example, we just played the melody on a couple of whistles and then we bounced it back and forward between the internal mics of two tape-decks until the sound started disappearing into hell. Like when you look at an image reflected within two mirrors forever, in the distance it gets darker and greener and murkier. We record a lot of live stuff, just for fun, most of what we record hasn't been released. We tend to break equipment frequently. We'd probably make professional studio engineers weep if they saw us working. And some of our electronic tracks are not sequenced, we just put them down as samples onto multi-track tape, because it can sound more real and characteristic. We use a hardware sequencer for arranging but it has incredible glitches at the end of every pattern of music, which is interesting up to a point. We usually only use computers for accurate sequencing now, you know, German timing."

To me this represents a kind of perfect melding of function, form, and content. The machinery they use is itself old, dying, and a source of nostalgia -- which is one of the things that I think a lot of the BoC imitators miss. It's one thing to mime a nostalgic sound -- it's another to weave nostalgia into the very process of creation.
posted by TheRoach at 12:23 AM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

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