Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest | Album Review | By Volume

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Boards of Canada

Boards of Canada

Tomorrow's Harvest

Captivating, intelligent and uncompromising — BoC pick up right where they left off.

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Author: on June 17, 2013
8.0
Warp Records
June 5, 2013

Want to know the most jarring aspect of Tomorrow’s Harvest? The regal horns with which Boards of Canada’s fourth proper LP begins. They’re keyboard-created, little doubt, but they ornament lead-off track “Gemini” with something a bit unexpected from the duo: self-proclamation. They ring out immediately as Tomorrow’s Harvest sets off, as though introducing some grand Lord’s appearance at a stately ball. But really, there is truth to be found in this sentiment. Boards of Canada are, by a pretty wide margin, the masters of warm, sample heavy, nostalgic IDM. And in a sense, are founding fathers in the genre’s maturation. It is pretty simple to pin-point their influence throughout ambient and intelligent dance music (Tycho, Bibio and Four Tet to name a few) but what is most admirable about BoC is how unique they still sound. One of the reasons these two have been able to stay so refreshing with just four full-lengths, is how little media saturation they have accrued. They constantly hide from a limelight that’s right on their coattails, and maybe this is why Tomorrow’s Harvest feels like a reunion with an old friend – one of those instances where years have passed but it is like you’ve never parted ways.

I could get into the dirty ins-and-outs of Tomorrow’s Harvest, its tracklisting, how the music sounds in comparison to their other records. But with Boards of Canada, it’s completely arbitrary. If you’re already predisposed to their brand of sun-shiny, albeit incredibly mechanical, electronic ebb and flow, then Tomorrow’s Harvest has about as much chance as any of their previous records of being your favorite. The duo have once again grown exponentially between records, yet seem to expertly disguise this evolution. The 60’s and 70’s Hollywood veneer that encapsulates Tomorrow’s Harvest is somewhat new for the group who had previously harkened back to the 80’s with a curious eye towards futurism. And by Hollywood, there, I mean straight B-Movie magic – this record is seeping with little horror-movie soundtrack cues, from “Telepath”’s eerie robotic countdown to “Collapse”’s spooky underlying synths – this is not quite the same coyly uplifting Boards of Canada, but that is hardly a drawback.

Not to illustrate this album as a downer of sorts, though – the record may be the duo’s most downtrodden, but it’s not like you were coming to a Boards of Canada long-player for a saccharine jolt of pure adrenaline. These are records for close contemplation, days lying in the sun, late night drives and serious grooving. Tomorrow’s Harvest is incredibly atmospheric, creating an all-encompassing world of driving drums, heavy bass, captivating synthesizers and genuine wonder. Yet this wide-eyed quality to their music is something that has always been incredibly appealing; they don’t so much create nostalgic records as approach their art with child-like spectacle – like a toddler simply ecstatic to be anywhere and alive – and this translates fluidly to us as listeners.

Their VCR-era documentary sampling, their minimalist mood shifts, the almost caustic happiness every inch of their records exude – all of this is geared towards our reminiscing. It also doesn’t hurt that the duo have largely remained unchanged since their inception, instead growing from decade to decade, shifting their art to fit the times. Or shifting time to fit their art? Like an old friend, Boards of Canada are able to sneak back in without any of us ever really realizing they went anywhere at all, giving us more hope that (sooner than later) not only will there be a next time, but that it will come and go just as smoothly as all the others.

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