I’ve been a fan of Boards of Canada for almost 20 years now. Ever since being introduced to much of the Warp catalogue by coworkers at Circuit City in high school, I’ve considered this mysterious duo to be one of those bedrock favorites, the kind of group that I’m always happy to hear.
While I consider 2002’s Geogaddi to be their true masterpiece, beating out landmark debut Music Has The Right To Children by an avant-garde hair, it wasn’t until much later that they had any sort of official visual accompaniment to their music. When they dropped The Campfire Headphase in 2005, Boards of Canada finally released their first music video.
Here it is, the space surfing Dayvan Cowboy:
It was never really surprising that the duo, composed of Scottish brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin, mostly refrained from the visual form popularized by MTV. To this day, there are scarce photos of the pair together. They never really did promotional appearances, either. Somehow, they let their weird music, a mixture of radio telescope transmissions and alien hip-hop, speak for itself. Incredibly, it worked just fine. Even people unfamiliar with the deeper end of electronic music can often name-check Boards of Canada.
Still, it was a breath of fresh air to see the cobbled-together-from-existing-footage video appear just over a decade ago. The blurred aesthetic manages to evoke the music perfectly, juxtaposing an early space jump attempt with gauzy surfing imagery. In retrospect, it makes sense that Sandison and Eoin would appear in the world of video with a clip that suggested astronauts could land in the ocean, shed their equipment, and surf the rolling ocean without skipping a beat. This surreal blending of hard science and hippie idealism fits the music like a glove.
It’s still one of my favorite videos, and reminds me that, while the album it’s from is my least favorite, it’s still a Boards of Canada album. As such, it’s still better than most of the electronic music released in the last decade.
You can stream The Campfire Headphase, and all their other albums, on Spotify. Everything can be purchased on CD, vinyl, or digital via Warp Recorda on Bleep.