Geogaddi, Boards of Canada’s sophomore album, was engineered so as to last for exactly sixty-six minutes and six seconds. Their fixation on the repetition sixes is clear throughout its content, right down to the title of track sixteen: “The Devil is in the Details.” Even the cover art is composed entirely of six-sided figures, a seemingly endless kaleidonoid procession of hexagons within hexagons. When the LP suddenly emerged in 2002, it debuted at a collection of six churches worldwide, in a ritual of unknown intent.
The length of the album, at first, appears to have been achieved through little more than a cheap trick. Its twenty-third and final track, “Magic Window,” contains one minute and forty-six seconds of silence, ending a chain of cryptic and unnerving drones riddled with subliminal messages. As this is all the digital listener experiences, they are bound to feel cheated by its presence as the finale of the album.
When played on vinyl, however, the silence of “Magic Window” is heard in an entirely different key. This is because it’s not just an arbitrary name tagged onto the end of a series of mysteries; the back side of the third record (and thus, the sixth side overall), is entirely dedicated to this track.
More than simply being quiet, “Magic Window” is unplayable. It doesn’t even occupy an empty groove- in fact, there is no groove at all for a needle to trace.
In place of one is a vague outline, overlaid onto an otherwise uninterrupted abyss: that of a nuclear family holding hands, each member hollowed of any recognizable features. Together, they gaze into the listener from the other side of that opaque portal, with expressions of hopefulness and expectation arrayed across their lack of faces. Here, the boundary between man and music is most thin, and they can acknowledge one another from a safe distance, via the silence of another sense.
When the record is played, however, the window is opened, and passage is allowed between their worlds. What finds its way across through the ear during this period is beyond the listener’s control.
After all, the devil is in the details.