Hot Thoughts on Cold Earth

Hey guys, D again. Wanted to float some thoughts about Cold Earth, probably my fav track on TH.

First, some structural matters (check my work!):

Drum loop A enters at 0:42 and and continues through the melody’s introduction, repeating for 24 measures i.e. 4 phrases (save for dramatic pauses and sfx–sound of an old telephone being slammed at 1:23). Loop B then enters at 1:24 and repeats for 12 measures/2 phrases ending with a (radio-esque imo) vocal sample (1:42). Loop C then begins its 12-measure run, and at the midway point we hear that weird sound (1:54) [1]  heralding the introduction of the voices. Then we drop back into loop B (2:07–voice also says “zero” here), which plays again for 12 measures, then we’re with loop A again for 24 measures to the conclusion.

So A-B-C-B-A, roughly. Yet another palindrome.

Thematically this evokes evolution and devolution, perhaps the effect of planetwide communication on human society. The introduction of electric media was a relatively sudden event in human history–voices traveled through air that was empty just a few decades before. In the geological blink of a fly’s eye, everyone could hear everyone else, and good or bad, it was a point of no return for this species.  [2]

To approach it from another angle, the structure of the drum loops and transitions–especially the abrupt, thunderous turnaround at 1:54–also reminds me of the system of historical “ages” (think iron, stone etc) as poetically outlined in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.  [3] Each human age–separate in time, but paradoxically involving the same characters and situations–is punctuated by a great thunder which ushers in the next. Relate that to the shifting drum patterns and unchanging chord progression as you like.

[1] Ever since I read in this interview of the mysterious piece of gear that “cost [the boys] a lot of time and road miles to source” and resulting one-second sample, I’ve suspected the screechy groan at 1:54 is it.

[2] Anyone who hasn’t should check out the very important work of Marshall McLuhan–for more on the advent of radio, check out chapter 30, “Radio: the Tribal Drum,” from his Understanding Media.

[3] For a thorough if offbeat explanation of this, see here (timelinked to the relevant segment, though the whole lecture is a solid intro to the Wake). Ol’ BoCcast Mikey is a known fan of the Wake too, and we’ve discussed how it relates to TH in the past, so keep your ears peeled if pomo lit is your fancy.

BoCcast Episode 2: Tomorrow’s Harvest Analysis, Part 1

boards-of-canada-tomorrows-harvest

This is the first in a series of podcasts dedicated to detailed analysis of Boards of Canada’s newest album, Tomorrow’s Harvest.

Let me know what you think, hope you enjoy!  Feel free to leave your own interpretations in the comments section.

If you enjoyed, be sure to subscribe, there’s a lot of mind-bending stuff going on here, and this first podcast barely scratches the surface.

Listen:

Direct Link

Yeah! It’s Dayvan Cowboy!

Honestly, I didn’t think this was ever going to happen, but I found a slam-dunk crystal clear vocal sample in Dayvan Cowboy a couple nights ago.  Got me all pumped, all tingly in my scalp and spine.  I live for moments like that.

At 3:09, (listening to the Trans-Canada Highway version now for reference, but i heard it in both) there’s a crescendoing cymbal buildup that’s followed by two big cymbal crashes.  Around 3:12, right after the second big crash, a quiet male voice in the left channel says “Yeah!”  It’s a quiet voice at the peak of the song, so it will doubtless take a few listens.  It’s there, though. I promise.

I don’t think much analysis is needed.  It’s an uplifting track, and I’m glad this disembodied voice is as into it as I am!

There are probably several more voices waiting to be found in this track.  I’ll keep you posted.

Update: At :07, I hear a whispery voice saying “Goodbye”.  “Good” in the right channel, “bye” out the left, and then a very quiet voice to the left, sounds like it’s descending, and I hear it say “everyone.”

That’s all I got for now.  Goodbye everyone!

Recycled Sounds

The boys know better than to dump a good sound after just one use–recycled samples are not uncommon in BoC’s body of work, pre-Geogaddi specifically. Certain sounds, from vocal blips to extended loops, pop up in two or more different tracks, sometimes straightforwardly but often with a twist.

Turquoise and Orange Hexagon Sun share a complete drum loop; Whitewater and Sixtyten feature the same Sesame Street sample, though it’s reversed in the latter. And that one whispery flute tune shows up time and again in their work (ATP live track 3, Sixtyniner, website loop, A:B::B:C… etc?).

BoC were never shy about recycling tracks on multiple releases, either, and I think having recurrent elements jives with their early media-nostalgia aesthetic: reruns were just a fact of life in old TV days.

Check it out for yourself. The following are tracks featuring recurrent samples–chronological by each sample’s 1st appearance. Find em and then find all the ones I missed!

  • Random Track A06 / Seven Forty Seven
  • Random Track A08 / June 9th
  • Random Track A12 / Aquarius version 3 (thanks Cuddi)
  • Spectrum / Twoism
  • 5-9-78 / Oirectine
  • BMX Track / Hi Scores
  • Magic Teens / Sixtyten (believe me)
  • On a Rolling Sea / Orange Romeda
  • Turquoise / Orange Hex Sun
  • Sir Prancelot Brainfire / Sixtyniner
  • Seeya Later / Smokes Quantity
  • Telephasic Workshop / Live @ ATP trk 4

 

P.S. Hi I’m Dylz, golden-eared research associate of Mikey’s.  I’ll be dropping by now and then to share my own thoughts about the music.  Keep an eye out l8rrr guyz

Voice in Jacquard Causeway

Hey, Mikey here, so deep into the sounds that I’ve got the chills.

I’m listening to Jacquard Causeway, and I hear a looping voice out of the left channel that builds, starting around 4:40 saying “Death will take them all,” at a steady crescendo, almost crystal clear at 5:10 or so. I tend to agree with the interpretation that the song is about the evolution of information processing, starting at the Jacquard Loom and its punchcards, developing to reflect digital information and its ubiquity in the modern world.  In light of that interpretation though, what could the sample mean? My reading is that the brothers see the species imminent death as a grim, undeniable truth, or at least a serious possibility that’s exaggerated through the pessimistic lens of Tomorrow’s Harvest.

Now that information is more accessible,  it’s apparent to anyone in tune with global news that an omega point for humanity is far from impossible.  Access to global news has changed the way people see their country’s mainstream media sources. I find it pretty easy to be pessimistic about the world I live in when it’s easy to figure out the degree to which massive populations are misled by the mainstream media.  I think Tomorrow’s Harvest is a real meditation on global politics and media (more on this later). To that end, I think the availability of information has made it clear to a lot of people that the world is not nearly as stable as one’s own national news media makes it out to be,  and that’s what this ghostly voice is reflecting at the peak of the causeway.

It’s 1984, but you wouldn’t know it unless you’re in tune with the internet (no wonder the ol’ US is talking about making it jailable to pose as a journalist without credentials).

EVP in XYZ

I was listening to XYZ while lifting the other day, and it hit me: That final blip at the end, after “Insert Coin”… I always knew it had to mean something, but I cut my workout short and ran to my computer to hit up paulstretch.  I tried to get something intelligible out of it, and this is the best I could come up with.  This is .1 seconds of audio stretched out to about 1 second.  I hear “You’re all we have” or maybe “You’re only half.”

If it’s “You’re all we have,” it seems like it’s a nice subliminal acknowledgement of the importance we fans hold to the band.  Sometimes I feel the same way about them, to be honest.

If it’s “You’re only half,” it’d be a sort of statement on duality.  Body and consciousness.  Gemini.  Split infinities.  Listening to the Peel Session forward, then backward.

What do you hear?  What do you think it means?