Boards of Canada

One of 2005's most satisfying releases came from vintage-equipment-flaunting Boards of Canada; the duo's third full-length shone amid the year's electronic-instrument-filled output. Campfire Headphase's seductive analog textures also featured an occasional guitar strum, which is highlighted straight away on followup Trans Canada Highway, for the six-song EP opens with one of Campfire's strongest: "Dayvan Cowboy." It's the only Campfire cut on Trans Canada Highway, remixed here by cLOUDDEAD's Odd Nosdam, but the treatment does nothing for the original's temperate, June-afternoon melody. "Skyliner" prangs with scattering beats that flicker on and off, and disintegrate in both channels as quickly as they materialize, upstaging Boards' trademark washed-out synths in the back seat. "Heard from Telegraph Lines" just about breaks one minute in swells that could very easily have been one of Geogaddi's subtle psyche-outs in 2002, while the colder tones and rigid beats that structure "Left Side Drive" generously give way to a quick, Moog-spiked coda and more bleariness. Like the memorable tremolo guitar and transcendent faux string glory of its leadoff track, Trans Canada Highway continues to beam hazy befuddlement, conjuring half-developed images of a spinning bathroom ceiling after too much red grape "Mad Dog" during the winter formal.

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Dominic Umile