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May 18, 2024

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Boards of Canada
Twoism (Warp Records)

By: Mark Sullivan

If this debut had been the first thing I ever heard by Boards of Canada, I probably would have reviewed it something like this:

Twoism is a very promising debut album of bedroom techno. Boards of Canada would fit right in with Warp's stable of Artificial Intelligence artists: Autechre, Speedy J, Richie Hawtin and, especially, Aphex Twin, under his many noms de musique. I will definitely be checking out their future work.

However, only 100 copies of Twoism were released in the Summer of 1995, so most people, myself included, were not even aware of its existence until years later, after the promise of that debut had long since been fulfilled, and on the Warp record label, too. Now Warp has reissued Twoism. So, is this album of more than historic value? Does it do more than satisfy the completist fans who could not afford to take out a mortgage on an original copy, if they could even find one?

Twoism does contain some very nice music, echoing Aphex Twin's lighter ambient works (although definitely not his darker tracks). However, Boards of Canada later recycled the best of these tracks: "seeya later" was so good they put another version of it on their Skam label follow-up, Hi-Scores. Another re-recording, "smokes quantity," ended up on the album "music has the right to children," a benchmark of late night ambient techno. And there lies the problem. When I want to listen to Boards of Canada, I am far more likely to put on that album, the later mini-LP, In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country, or the recent full length, Geogaddi. Comparing those to Twoism reveals the huge gulf between promise made and promise kept. B

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