Originally released on April 20 of that year in Europe through a joint venture between influential English electronic labels Warp and Skam Records (Aug. 20 in America on Warp/Matador), brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin broke new ground by driving the trip-hop aesthetic into Brian Eno/Cluster territory. Across 17 tracks and 62 minutes, the sibling tandem would assimilate their shared love for Vangelis at his headiest, classic Wendy Carlos and Lalo Schifrin soundtracks from the late '60s/early '70s, a little deft turntablism trickery from the Brooklyn “illbient” scene, and the groundbreaking work of groups like Seefeel and My Bloody Valentine to create an innovative new sound at the dawn of the 21st century.
“It's a team effort,” described Sandison in a 1998 interview with the early online music publication Forcefield about the music he and his brother had been creating since 1986. “Usually the starting point is a melody. We write hundreds of little melodies, and the most attractive ones last in our minds. We go back to them and pick the ones that really stand out, then we start piecing together rhythms.”
“For me, the album was everything I wished it could be after hearing their Hi Scores and Aquarius releases on Skam and tracking down (an original) Twoism EP,” explains Kevin Foakes, otherwise known as the highly influential Ninja Tune recording artist DJ Food, who is currently touring an audio visual BoC-themed DJ set called O is for Orange. “Often, a new group lights a fire with their first few releases and the debut album can be long-awaited but a disappointment on arrival. Not so with MHTRTC. I remember receiving test pressings of it and enthusing to Steve Beckett at Warp about how good it was. I work out the beats per minute of any tracks I want to play out when I DJ, and nearly every track on those discs has the bpm written on the cover.”
It was shortly after the release of Music Has the Right to Children overseas that Matador Records founder Chris Lombardi happened upon it while record shopping in London.
“It was very different 20 years ago than it is today,” he tells Billboard. “When a record came out in England, it would take weeks or months or forever sometimes for it to finally reach your shores. And you would have to physically go into a record store to seek it out or read about it in a fanzine to find out it exists. So when I was in London at the record store Music Has the Right to Children had just come out, and I literally did not know about Boards of Canada or their Skam releases. I knew a little about Warp, and I wound up buying the record because it looked interesting. It had a great cover; it was mysterious looking, which really caught my eye. When I got back the next day to listen to my stack of records, I put that on and my mind was blown.”
Once Lombardi returned to New York, it wasn’t before long that he was on the horn with Warp to ask label owners Steve Beckett and Robert Gordon about their plans to release Children stateside.
“[Matador co-owner] Gerard [Cosloy] and I were playing it in the office when I got back, and I called Steve and Robert at Warp,” Lombardi explains. “I picked up the phone and told them how I just picked up this record by Boards of Canada when I was in England and asked what you guys are doing with it in America and how we would like to release it. And we did, and it stands as one of the great Matador releases. To stumble upon it in such a naïve way and discover this landmark recording was something I’ll never forget. The research wasn’t as easy as it is today, but it was a gamble worth taking. After that, we wound up licensing the whole Warp catalog for a couple of years.”