It’s been fifteen years since the release of Boards Of Canada’s first studio album, and it hasn’t aged a bit. Music Has The Right To Children is still as fresh and inviting as it was on its release date, and new intricacies can still be found in the music if one listens attentively enough. This truly is a record that stands the test of time and becomes more exciting with each new listen rather than growing stale. One of the reasons this works is because of how the album uses time to its advantage. MHTRTC takes the listener back to several different times in their lives, some of which may not even exist. The nostalgic qualities of this album are so stunning that they are difficult to put into words. Songs such as “Bocuma” will have you bobbing your head while simultaneously reminiscing about some vague childhood memory that may not even be yours.
Emotional qualities aside, the album is also a treasure trove of musical ideas. The group’s musical process mainly consists of layering analog keyboards and samples over thick, reverbed hip-hop beats. Some songs feature intense, disorienting sound manipulation (“Smokes Quantity”, “The Color Of The Fire”) as well as thundering drum beats and loops (“Sixtyten”, “Aquarius”). The samples that the duo dug up are obscure, intriguing and at times quite frightening. The sudden uttering of “I love you” on “An Eagle In Your Mind” will warrant different reactions from each listener. Some will be chilled out of their skin while others will be sucked into the music even further. This rabbit hole only descends further on tracks like “The Color Of The Fire” where a sample of a child is tampered with to the point of being nearly unrecognizable by the track’s end. This is often considered the eeriest track on the album, but this reviewer respectfully disagrees. “The Color Of The Fire” is one of the most nostalgic tracks here in my opinion, akin to someone feeling true love for the first time in their life. The keyboards are sunny and warm, and put me into a deep trance every time I’m within earshot of them. Boards Of Canada also run the gamut of several different types of electronic music, dabbling in dub (“Telephasic Workshop”), trip-hop (“Rue The Whirl”, “Aquarius”), experimenting with drops (“Pete Standing Alone”), and even adding touches of ambience (“Olson”, “Open The Light”).
One of the best things about this record is how well it flows. Not a second is wasted on this album and at the end of my first listen, I heard absolutely nothing I wanted to change. About fifty listens later, I still feel the exact same way. The album flows seamlessly, gliding by without so much as a single hitch. The way the group splices drawn-out electronic epics with short, melodic vignettes gives the album an entirely new layer of depth. Even a sudden curveball like the extended endings to “Triangles & Rhombuses” and “Sixtyten” doesn’t feel even a centimeter out of place. Repetitive sections like the first half of “Rue The Whirl” don’t feel boring, but rather entrancing. The duo of “Bocuma” and “Roygbiv” are perfect companion pieces, supporting each other and kicking off the greatest string of songs on the album. Besides this, the second most apparent pro of the album is its production. The album truly feels as if it is a disorienting time warp, thanks in part to the mildly fuzzy keyboards and drums that sound as if they were bought in a rundown store for $50. When listening, one just might get the strangest feeling they’ve heard the music before.
Music Has The Right To Children is a triumphant achievement in electronic music and music in general. It stands as Boards Of Canada’s greatest work and is the greatest electronic album, I personally, have ever heard. The influence of this album is massive and the way it uses human emotion to suck the listener deeper into the music is genius. If you haven’t heard this album, I strongly recommend it. It was released fifteen years ago and still shows no signs of aging.
1. Wildlife Analysis (1:18)
2. An Eagle In Your Mind (6:24)
3. The Color Of The Fire (1:46)
4. Telephasic Workshop (6:36)
5. Triangles & Rhombuses (1:51)
6. Sixtyten (5:48)
7. Turquoise Hexagon Sun (5:10)
8. Kaini Industries (0:59)
9. Bocuma (1:37)
10. Roygbiv (2:32)
11. Rue The Whirl (6:40)
12. Aquarius (5:58)
13. Olson (1:33)
14. Pete Standing Alone (6:08)
15. Smokes Quantity (3:08)
16. Open The Light (4:26)
17. One Very Important Thought (1:19)
18. Happy Cycling (Bonus Track) (7:51)