All Hail mighty BoC! Oh. Hang on. This sounds different. Boo! Boo! Down with BoC!
-pretty much the response this album got on release. The cutting phrase 'Least great album' was bandied about. Gotta admit, I felt that way too. Gone was the lofty shimmer of Geogaddi and MHTRTC.
Anyway, I'm glad I waited six months before writing this review, because 'Campfire Headphase' has grown on me in an gradual, organic way, like a tasty mushroom. As a really good album should. The thing I initially liked least, I now like best: the contrast. MHTRTC was crystalline music - icy and measured. Geogaddi followed that with a kind of spooky-movie feel - very dense, very unsettling, sort of David Lynch-y. So far, so "cool"
Now think about words like 'warm', 'organic', 'rich'. Not so traditionally "cool" in concept, huh? Ditto 'guitar' in the IDM world, right? Obviously, still with lots of crackly synths and woozy warbles. The change takes some getting used to, but now I'm loving this album, end to end. Ok, then, enough banter: to specifics
Dayvan Caravan is magnificent, possibly my favorite BoC track ever. An enormously long build up unfolds to a surging orchestral/murky choir theme with a trademark 'just so' melody bleeped on top of that. How in the world do BoC take 5 bare notes of melody and make them into an emotional epic?
Tracks like Satellite Theme Icarus & Ataronchronon are actually more representative of the mood, though - with the sound of gentle waves in the mix and a calming reflective feel. Think of people on a beach, sipping banana daquiri's as the sun sets. Robot people.
It's also an album of phases: there's an georgeous wind-down in the last three tracks, each more sparse and languid than the last, until the gentle hushed chords of Firewell Fire either send me to sleep, make me hit play again or force me to finally get on with some work, depending on my environment. But while the album's playing, I'm living in BoC's (for once) warm & welcoming world.
anyway, if this direction sounds scary to you - watch out. The duo (brothers, as it turns out) have threatened an entirely acoustic album in the future. I'll be the one person looking forward to that, then.