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Baker's Dozen

Semi-Chaotic Elements: Ekoplekz' Favourite Albums
The Quietus , June 4th, 2015 11:11

With his third album on Planet Mu out, Nick Edwards gives us an in-depth trawl through his top 13 LPs, a Baker's Dozen that scans his formative 90s electronica influences and acts as a "reference point" to Reflekzionz


Boards Of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children
As far as I can gather, these guys were in the same boat as me in the early to mid 90s: very active creatively but unable to get signed. That all changed in the second half of the decade. I didn't spot their earliest low-level releases at the time. Like most people, the first thing I heard was the debut Warp album. The first time I played it, I instantly felt a cold sensation, a feeling of recognition. They were tapping directly into the hazy 'memerodelia' of childhood, opening little doorways in the mind, teasing out those lost sensations from a dimly-remembered past. In short, this was the first truly and intentionally hauntological album that I experienced, several years in advance of the Ghost Box-related scene (and all the attendant blog theory that surrounded it) in the following decade.

BoC were always very strong melodically but it was the lo-fi quality of many of their sounds that fascinated me, to the point where certain textures actually made me shudder. Over time I learned, via interviews, of the exacting and unique methods they used to 'age' sounds, similar to the way a furniture maker will find ingenious 'distress' techniques to artificially age wood, etc. A lot of it was about degrading the sound quality via repeated tape bouncing, but they also alluded to several special bits of kit they used to achieve certain effects. I was fascinated by that idea, that you could concoct your own individual recipes for making things sound deliberately old and knackered. Bare in mind, this was at a time when everyone was desperate to go digital. Everyone wanted to dump their reel-to-reel tape machines and cassette four-tracks and invest in digital eight-tracks or a PC-based Pro Tools system, yet here were these guys turning lo-fi into a science. I was hooked and determined to find similar ways to affect my own sounds. I had gone through a brief period of using a digital recording system, but was never really happy with the results, and after hearing BoC and some of the other artificially-aged music from artists like Rhythm & Sound and Gas, I went back to analogue recording. And apart from a brief flirtation with a couple of software-based systems, I've remained there ever since.

I don't think BoC ever made a bad record, and I'm one of those who defended The Campfire Headphase album, which I thought was a wonderful record. I think maybe their latest album [2013's Tomorrow's Harvest] is a bit of a 'treading water' package, but even if they never make another great record again, they've already done enough to ensure their place as one of the truly great production teams of our generation. All we've done since is focus on certain aspects and exaggerated them, to the point where this album sounds quite normal by today's standards, and some of the hip-hop beats sound a little dated, but regardless of the production techniques, there's no denying the incredible songwriting (for want of a better word). Tracks like 'Turquoise Hexagon Sun', 'Roygbiv' and 'Aquarius' are stone cold classics in their own right. Eternal respect.