Mechanically Separated Chicken.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

An album review by Emmett Foster Spendlove

The boards of Canada.the boards of canada
music has the right to children

I never thought I'd confess to this, but occasionally (usually whilst lying insomniac between my monogrammed Tunisian silk sheets with a tumbler of cognac in one hand and a raging hard-on in the other), I feel a little, well, lonely.

'Piffle!' I hear you protest, 'How can a man blessed with chiselled beauty, elegant machismo and an inexhaustible supply of caramel-coloured calfskin slippers ever feel truly alone?

Well, the simple fact of the matter is that I do. Oh, it's true, there will always be sex - extravagant, filthy, depraved sex. Trudie Styler's parties may eventually lose steam but I'll never run out of slutty debs eager to loosen the puritanical apron-strings of their social x-ray mothers (along with their underpants). And it's only a matter of time until Charlie Sheen tumbles back off the wagon and resumes throwing those three-day fully-catered all-you-can-fuck benders with courtesy bowls of blow lined up on every flat surface.

However, as I can mournfully attest, as soon as you've 'tried everything once,' it begins to get a tad repetitive. Once you've snorted GBH off Angelina Jolie's inner thigh with blood trickling down your chest from the savage bitemark above your left nipple; once you've given Travolta a blowjob while he's piloting his jet through the Rockies; once you've thrown a private party for the cast of Sex and the City (plus Broderick) that involved hiring a suite of animal costumes and that Mongolian contortionist girl from Cirque de Soleil...

Well, let's just say that one's palate can get a little jaded.

So, it was late one night, during one of these rare fits of pique - pondering my existential aloneness and trying fruitlessly to brush that last almond biscotti crumb out of the bedlinen - that I heard a sound which perfectly encapsulated my mood. Wafting through the french doors like the aroma of hot brioche came the most excruciatingly wistful music I'd ever heard. So, I bundled myself into a pashmina robe and ventured out to the balcony, to see where the fuck it was coming from.

At first, while my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see nothing. The melody, however, became louder - a livelier version of the spaceship's communique from Close Encounters: a haunting and seemingly random mathematical ladder of notes evocative of searching a labyrinth and encountering numerous dead ends.

This led into a soft-shoe-shuffle techno set-up. It may have just been the cognac, but the beats brought to mind an image of Fred Astaire tap dancing on sand in a hotel corridor, with whistling, reverb, and the somewhat disturbing sound of a dog gurgling 'I love you.'

I was transfixed. What was this music? And how had it managed to capture precisely the same cutting-edge combination of cleverness, cleanliness and postmodern sadness as myself?

Slowly, I began to make out the source of the music: in the courtyard below, Johann, my chauffeur, was cleaning the town car. At three in the fucking morning. There he was, rubbing lotion into the upholstery and gingerly picking my insulin syringes up off the back seat. He hadn't turned on the spotlight over the driveway, so he was obviously trying not to wake me, but the music I could hear seemed to be coming from the car stereo.

For a while longer I stood silently on the balcony, listening to that minimalist electronica and watching Johann empty the Jag's ashtrays into a plastic Sears bag. It was mysterious and occasionally sinister music, with a nostalgic element I couldn't quite put my finger on - perhaps it was the filtered voices of children or the slow dreamlike beats. I wasn't sure, but for a moment it made me forget my empty bed, my diabetes, and my tragic inability to rid myself of dandruff despite my vast wealth and access to scalp specialists. So I went downstairs and into the courtyard, to ask Johann was he was playing.

Flushed with embarrassment, he handed me the CD cover and in his infuriatingly bad english, stammered that we were listening to a Scottish duo called The Boards of Canada, more specifically their album Music has the Right to Children, released in late '98. He also informed me that their new album, Geogaddi, has just been released through Matador, making them lablemates of Pavement, Belle and Sebastian and the Pizzicato Five. I thanked him, asked if I could have the CD, and trotted back to bed, the booty clasped to my bosom. I slept like a baby.

The next morning, after a light breakfast of wheatgerm and watermelon frappe, I slid the disc into the Bang and Olufsen, turned up the volume, and gave instructions to have Johann dismissed. I hate being dragged out of bed at three in the morning by noisy help; additionally, he insisted on wearing the most offensive coconut pomade I've ever had the misfortune to smell. Gave me terrible headaches, like Sharon Stone stabbing me in the temple with an icepick. I don't know what the fuck he was thinking.