Tomorrow’s Harvest from Boards of Canada
Gemini, Tomorrow’s Harvest’s first track from Boards of Canada, starts off with a sound similar to an opening credit to a movie with “____ presents” or something similar. Which is not surprising – the Scottish duo of brothers Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin are known for creating instrumental, picturesque music from their three full length albums prior to this one – Music Has The Right To Children (1998), Geogaddi (2002) and Campfire Headphase (2005), all three released through Warp, a pioneering label for electronic musicians such as Aphex Twin and Autechre.
Tomorrow’s Harvest was long awaited. Eight years have passed since Headphase and, in all honesty, Headphase didn’t live up to the high expectations that Music Has The Right and especially Geogaddi created with the dreamy, nostalgic, unique atmosphere that it seemed only Boards Of Canada were able to create. Campfire had the enjoyable atmosphere but the overall creativity wasn’t pushed that much forward.
Tomorrow’s Harvest, first and foremost, sounds different. It does sound like Boards Of Canada, but with a slightly different angle of approach to the record and how it’s created. It seems that the duo relied heavily on creating the specific thematic atmosphere throughout the whole album, a conceptual record which is post-apocalyptic, dark and full of suspense. The first three tracks being Gemini, Reach For The Dead and especially the arpeggiated synth theme in White Cyclosa reminded me of John Carpenter’s movies instantly. Carpenter’s scores to his own movies are well known – Halloween and Assault On Precinct 13 being most notable – yet in Boards Of Canada’s case the more appropriate scores and movie plots would be Escape From New York or The Thing…the desolate, melancholic, post-war city that lies in ruins. Reach For The Dead also gives a hint of reference to Dawn Of The Dead, a zombie movie about the apocalypse.
Is it working? I think it is. I’m a sucker for suspense movies, not only Carpenter, but the Italian school of horror too, Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci. I think this nihilistic dark concept is working pretty well in Tomorrow’s Harvest’s scheme. It is pretty much realistic from a 2013 point of view, with an overpopulated Earth, all the global warming issues, WikiLeaks and plenty of wars still going on all across the globe. The future is dark (Palace Posy is anagram for apocalypse by the way) and Boards Of Canada are there to tell us about it, to envision it for us. Tomorrow’s Harvest is built like a palindrome, so it could be read and listened to from both ends, Collapse being the ground zero in the middle of the album.
Musically speaking, the warm sounding synthesizers, juicy beats, occasional distorted (or vocoded) voices/messages are still there. There is more space this time in the music palette itself, creating more space for the listener’s own imagination. Fans of the band feel somewhat underwhelmed so far, expecting more of a groundbreaking work I guess. To my ears, Tomorrow’s Harvest is the best thing Boards Of Canada have done so far, because it’s not so nostalgic and dreamy like their first records, yet sinister and brooding. Like the future – or reality – itself.
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