In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country, released in 2000, shows Boards of Canada at their most focused and effective, exerting a gorgeous yet disorientating hold over listeners in the space of just four tracks. ‘Zoetrope’ is one of the duo’s brightest and most carefree tracks, with sharp synths unfurling into changing patterns like ripples on the surface of a lake, all the while returning to an unrelenting throb. It is every bit the equal of Aphex Twin’s ‘Ambient Music Vol.2’, and a rare example of Boards’ straightforward, though no less beautiful, work.
Elsewhere, the EP’s offerings are more percussive and dense, with ‘Amo Bishop Roden’ employing ticking 808 percussion sparsely but effectively at a strange distance from saturated string iterations. Throughout the EP, drum patterns seem claustrophobic, denying momentum in a way which forces the listener’s concentration ever inward, onto the decaying synthetic textures at the music’s core. ‘Kid For Today’ conveys an uneasy undercurrent, despite its optimistic surface of twinkling Fender Rhodes and waves of sensuous static, and the title track employs vocoded vocals and cackling children’s voices which are at once dark and naively pleasurable. The record captures Boards of Canada offering up layers of interpretation and rich portals of memory whilst resisting being pinned down to a specific mood, a feat which few electronic outfits can manage with such alluring power.