Quick Band Bio: Boards of Canada is the moniker for two Scottish brothers, Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin, and it serves as a project for them to experiment with electronic music. Their discography is a confusing mix of official and unofficial albums, cassettes, and EPs, with the earliest known release being a cassette recording of Catalog 3 in 1987. Music Has The Right To Children was released 11 years later in 1998, and features samples from numerous sources of inspiration to the band, including The National Film Board of Canada which inspired the band’s name.
Music Has the Right to Children is very different from the other albums mentioned in this topic so far because of the genre difference alone. To classify it as electronic is a bit scary because my target audience for this article will read that and dismiss the album as outside of their tastes, but alternative rock kids will find fascinating experimental sounds with psychedelic and ambient qualities displaying themselves. It’s smooth electronic music that would work perfectly well as background music and even better if you decided to analyze it for every reference the duo creates.
As far as what it’s about? Some of that is unknown, but I’d say that the band’s name and the numerous samples of kids speaking hints towards Music Has The Right To Children being about the learning process. This is a repeated theme in the songs, whether it’s a kid learning his way through saying “I love you” in the track “The Color of the Fire”, a track titled after the color spectrum in “Roygbiv”, or the counting process that occurs in “Aquarius”. There’s definitely something there about the learning process and experience of childhood, but the confusing portion enters in trying to put those pieces together for a complete message. The best hint towards that can found in the original closing track of the album “One Very Important Thought” which has the most direct message to the listener that is actually taken nearly word for word from the end of an adult film named “A Brief Affair” released in 1982.
There’s a lot of great references and topics mentioned by Boards of Canada in this album, and it’s what elevates it from being an enjoyable album to a classic in my mind. I’d highly suggest learning this one in a gradual process, and finding your own portions of the album that speak to you and seem oddly relatable. Personally, my favorite thing is that it isn’t Children Have the Right to Music. It’s Music Has the Right to Children. That’s beautiful.