Analogue signals

I've been getting nostalgic about nostalgia. Tidying up some old CDs I came across a dusty copy of the nicely titled Music Has The Right To Children, by the Edinburgh ambient electronics duo Boards of Canada.

I'd forgotten what unusual music it is. It's a set of 18 or so short tracks that have the effect of transporting me back to a very particular place in time: 1970s Britain. Not the rather grim 1970s of recession, industrial unrest and the Winter of Discontent, but the 1970s of childhood, or at least how it was experienced by millions of suburban middle class kids like me.

Quite how the music achieves this effect and to what it extent it was the artists' intention is hard to assess. But I think it's undeniable, and if you look at the Amazon reviews you'll see plenty of others saying the same thing about it.

It's something to do with the tone of the synth pads that wash through the music, which are evocative of the electronica pioneered in the 1970s by the likes of Kraftwerk, Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream, the influence of which gradually made its way into the soundtracks of popular 70s TV shows such as Tomorrow's World, Blakes 7, The Krypton Factor, and many others I've forgotten.

There are also the evocative and heavily distorted field recordings that surface on quite a few tracks, including several loops of children's voices at play.

And then there's the music's strange, hazy mix. It's drenched in reverb, and the whole record sounds distant, as if it were being played underwater or in a distant room. The sound of a neighbour's lawnmower through an open window during a lazy summer's afternoon. It's a device that works brilliantly: the music sounds like it's always been there, stored away in a sunlit corner of one's mind.

Anyway, it's been helping me get through a very busy time, with loads to get done before going away for a holiday next week. Miserable weather, demanding work: the nostalgic glow supplied by this CD has soothed.

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