“Roygbiv,” featured on the seminal album Music Has the Right to Children, is a mesmerizing and evocative offering from electronic duo Boards of Canada. Released in 1998, both this song and the album that bore it are regarded as classics in the world of electronic music, and for good reason.
The title “Roygbiv,” for those unfamiliar with spectrographic nomenclature, is a reference to the colors of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) that’s perfectly coupled to this upbeat yet atmospheric track. Its warm synth tones, deeply saturated piano samples, and relaxed yet driving rhythm together evoke a wistful, nostalgic feeling that perfectly encapsulates the album’s self-purported purpose of being a sonic journey into childhood memory.
That appeal to memory is part of what makes “Roygbiv,” and Music Has the Right to Children as a whole, truly remarkable. The album is a cleverly constructed dive into an ambient and experimental EDM refined via charming pop sensibilities to evoke a sense of nostalgia and longing. The layers of melodies and textures intertwine to form a tapestry that feels both comforting and slightly melancholic. It’s as if the music is inviting the listener to reminisce, calling to mind memories of simpler times and carefree moments.
“Roygbiv” encapsulates Boards of Canada’s unique fusion of ambient sound, downtempo, and IDM (Intelligent Dance Music). Much like it parent album, it’s a musical artefact that rewards repeated listening, each playthrough revealing new nuances and subtleties within its dovetailing layers. Pair that conceptual depth to some sterling melodic ear-candy, and you’re left with a track that sounds as fresh today as it did 25 years ago.
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