Probably the most Boards Of Canada sounding album that Boards Of Canada have released. “But wait,” you cry after flipping your TV dinner tray and knocking over a lamp with that flowery canopy and tassels hanging like a droopy hippie, “how can that be? Music Has The Right To Children is their best album for all eternity!” Hey, I ain’t taking that away, though I’m certain a number of folks figure The Campfire Headphase a better album than Musical Children. Hell, there’s probably a few odd sorts that rank Geogaddi’s ultra-cryptic
Thing about the Big Three of Boards Of Canada’s discography is they each had their own, distinct sound. For sure there’s the BoC sonic markers you’ll hear in every one of their records (trip-hop beats, analog synth tones, ‘70s fuzz), but one can still instantly tell which album’s playing: Musical Children has the nostalgic playful innocence, Geogaddi the harsh experimentation, and Campfire Headphase the acoustic shoegaze pieces. Tomorrow’s Harvest has no such signifiers of instant identification; in fact, one could claim its lack of a recognizable theme is this album’s primary theme, but that’s rather stupid. Misters Sandison and Eoin most definitely had a theme in mind for this album, one that still paid homage to the ‘70s sounds they grew up listening to. For having relived the children’s documentaries and trips out to the countryside, Boards Of Canada felt time to grow up and explore the desolate futures so many sci-fi films of the era dealt with. Cold War babies didn’t have much hope for our present times, did they?
The start of Tomorrow’s Harvest certainly sells this premise, opener Gemini and third track White Cyclosa the sort of music a Berlin School composer might write for such a film. Lodged between them, Reach For The Dead brings in the Boards’ style of crackly beatcraft and warm synth timbre while adding wide-screen grandeur to their palette, a more cinematic approach to their vintage style. And that’s essentially the bulk of music you’ll find on Tomorrow’s Harvest, tunes less concerned with hauntology than presenting a narrative fitting its theme. There are a few scattered ambient doodles (Uritual, Telepath, Transmisiones Ferox, Collapse), and a couple ‘childhood recollection’ pieces poke their heads out (Nothing Is Real, Cold Earth). For the most part though, Tomorrow’s Harvest sounds like Boards Of Canada stripped down to their raw essence, their music as stark as the barren futurescape that encapsulates their would-be film.
Many who spent years dissecting their other albums were flustered with Tomorrow’s Harvest, unsure what to make of such a modest concept LP. The long gap between albums didn’t help matters, fans filled with much hype and thrill for BoC’s return. Yet it’s almost forgotten now, seldom talked up as folks keep referring back to older records. Guess some remain fixed in the past.
Reach For The Dead
Come To Dust