The Campfire Headphase is the 3rd major album from the musical enigmas Boards of Canada. Its release date is the 17th October 2005 in Europe, 18th October 2005 in the U.S. and possibly earlier in Japan.
Most people haven't listened to Boards of Canada. Fewer still have delved beyond their main releases, which are limited to a couple of EPs and two full albums. Surprisingly, this is merely scratching the surface of the band's history, as they were rather prolific before they joined up with Manchester's Skam Records, and the electronica monolith that is Warp. Those fans who have only heard as far back as Music Has The Right To Children are in for a shock, as The Campfire Headphase is a throwback to the days of older, rawer Boards of Canada.
That's not to say that this isn't a well-produced album – the material is top-notch, the mixing is excellent, and the general feel is that of an album with as much care and tweaking put into it as 2002's Geogaddi. Yet something is very different – the trademark children's voices and disturbing messages take a back seat to a more innocent sound, reminiscent of the elusive prototype album Boc Maxima (the opening track on The Campfire Headphase is almost partner to Maxima's Nova Scotia Robots). Alongside the synths is the somewhat unfamiliar addition of live guitar – from the acoustic accompaniment in Satellite Anthem Icarus to the distorted shoegazing turned Wild West explosion that is Dayvan Cowboy, making a welcome new addition to the Board's arsenal of sonic weaponry. The Campfire Headphase sounds like it could be performed live, an almost unimaginable leap from BoC's main releases which were essentially studio albums.
The standout tracks are Peacock Tail, a cosmic lullaby with Turquoise Hexagon Sun-style background chatter; Chromakey Dreamcoat, where guitars duel with synths, and the stylistically varied Dayvan Cowboy. The other tracks aren't mere filler, however – they just don't jump in your face and demand your immediate attention. The album is more peaceful and ambient than previous BoC fare. Constants Are Changing and Slow This Bird Down serve as a perfect pairing to wind down the album in a bittersweet melancholy way in contrast to the faster introduction tracks, and Farewell Fire fades into near-silence almost as quickly as it begins. It's easy to feel slightly cheated on a first listen to this record, especially when comparing this material to that released over 7 years ago. There are no mind-blowing tracks like Aquarius, and it's not as involving and cryptic as Geogaddi. It is however a gorgeous album with lots of honest to goodness enjoyable music on it. We'd only complain if it was Geogaddi Pt. II after all...
01 Into The Rainbow Vein (0:44)
02 Chromakey Dreamcoat (5:47)
03 Satellite Anthem Icarus (6:08)
04 Peacock Tail (5:24)
05 Dayvan Cowboy (5:00)
06 A Moment of Clarity (0:51)
07 ’84 Pontiac Dream (3:49)
08 Sherbet Head (2:41)
09 Oscar See Through Red Eye (5:08)
10 Ataronchronon (1:14)
11 Hey Saturday Sun (4:56)
12 Constants are Changing (1:42)
13 Slow This Bird Down (6:09)
14 Tears from the Compound Eye (4:03)
15 Farewell Fire (8:28)