Feeling musically adventurous? Boards of Canada
I've gotten so much great musical advice from the experts here on the 'gon, that I figured I'd do my best to make some recommendations. While my knowledge of jazz, classical, and classic rock can't compare to that of my fellow 'goners, I think I may be pretty well suited to make some non-traditional recommendations.
Before I give my recommendation, I should let you know what kind of music I like, and have liked, so that you can know if we have any common ground.
Right now, I'm listening to a lot of small group jazz, with artists like Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis, and Tomasz Stanko getting heavy rotation. I love experimental rock acts like the Grateful Dead, Phish, String Cheese Incident, and Widespread Panic. I can listen to some hip-hop, but it has to pass muster. I am a drum n' bass dj, as well, favoring the more beat oriented, funky side of things. Hell, I pretty much like everything. But I have cut my teeth in the electronic scene, getting mostly into the jazz flavored abstractions of Photek and the ilk...On with the recommendation...
My first recommendation is by a 2 man electronic outfit called Boards of Canada. Their album "Music Has the Right to Children" came out in 1998, and is simply one of my favorite electronic albums ever, and I have a few ; )
It is incredibly organic electronica. With song titles like "Wild Life Analysis", it's evident that BOC are not trying to fit in with the Euro Jet Setter Crowd. Describing this album is really difficult, although I've listened to it over 100 times. They play with time a lot by subtly shifting rhythms, lagging their synthesizers somehow, and having songs of many different lenghts. Their music is very jazzy in the sense that it seems to be a result of synergy and experimentation.
I would categorize BOC as downtempo/triphop. You won't be annoyed by the repetitive 4/4 beats, because there aren't any. Their use of rhythm and sampling just has to be heard to believed. Beautiful warm washes of sound, vocal snippets cut to the beat, haunting melodies. All cliche, but all BOC at their best in this album.
I always called Boards of Canada "headphone music", but it may very well be audiophile music, not because it was recorded in a certain way, but simply because there are SO MANY layers to their music, that most systems have a resolving them. The layers are all poignant as well. It's not as if they add things just to fill frequency ranges as an after-sights. My test for my system is that if I can clearly hear the chopped up vocals on track 4, then I'd say my system is pretty good at resolving details, as I'd only heard the vocals on Etymotic ER-4S's previously.
Caveat emptor: I would firmly plant BOC in the "Handshake Music" group. Handshake music is a term I've coined for groups that don't extend their music all the way out to you, rather, they meet you half way. If you want to enjoy BOC, you might have to listen to the album 5 or 6 times, just to let their M.O. soak in (at least that's what it took me...I expect that the more seasoned musicphiles might "get it" quicker. It's worth the effort to meet this group halfway, though.
Hope some of you check out and enjoy this supreme effort by two of the most unique electronic musicians around.