The artistic nature of Scotsmen Marcus Eoin and Michael Sandison, the pastoral ambient-psychedelicists who are Boards of Canada, is secretive, meticulous, and glowingly warm. They give few interviews, don't play live shows (they're not
DJs), and release Whitman-meets-Satie proclamations on the world's beauty in limited vinyl editions. In the process, Boards have unwittingly cultivated a rabid fan base, who have been breathlessly anticipating a follow-up to their epochal 1998 debut, Music Has the Right to Children
a crystalline 23-track sprawl, is quite worth the wait, cementing the duo's digi-log electronica aesthetic while moving their sound towards the pan-global techno-pop Xanadu of Björk
. Their basic musical elements remain: filtered analog-synth melodies, crackly-wack hip-hop beats, and sampled voices of innocence, sometimes manipulated beyond comprehension. They're also still fond of composed fragments that are more couplets than full-blown stanzas. But when they do get to dreaming in long form -- this time with tablas and artificial gallops for rhythm beds -- the result is akin to a Ripley's natural phenomenon. And there, amid the rhythmic minimalism of the darkly cloudy "Gyroscope," the Arabic wistfulness that accompanies the keyboard trance of "Alpha and Omega," and the gamelan-infected ambient spirits of "The Devil Is in the Details," lies Boards of Canada's idealized terra nova. It is a wonderful place.