Cryptic Edinburgh electronic duo Boards Of Canada bring us Tomorrow’s Harvest, an album which was initially first aired to fans in an abandoned theme park in California. If that sounds a little bizarre, more perplexing yet is the fact that the first traces of the record surfaced at Record Store Day 2013, when a vinyl was released which contained one of several secret code numbers.
The duo’s strong fan base eventually found out that the numbers were later used to promote the release of a new record, BOC’s first in eight years. Clues revealing information about the album were found in all sorts of places, including Cartoon Network adverts, BBC Radio 1 and even at Toyko intersections. The marketing campaign for Tomorrow’s Harvest was as forward-thinking as BOC’s music. It made the album promotion strategies recently adopted by Kanye West and Daft Punk seem prosaic in comparison.
After the fanfare jingle on the opener Gemini, the ominous strings which follow suggest to the listener that Tomorrow’s Harvest is BOC’s darkest and most dystopian record yet. The majority of the album is dark and sinister, especially compared to some of the tracks on their earlier effort The Campfire Headphase. It is only on tracks like Nothing Is Real, with its nostalgic rhodes and lingering high-pitched strings, in which there is much of a reminiscence of a more brighter-sounding BOC.
The record is as smart as it is dark, and is filled with wavy arpeggios and analogue synth sounds. The abundance of musical subtleties reminds the listener on why BOC are such a unique act. The rattle of Sick Times and the off-kilter funk of Jacquard Causeway further demonstrate BOC’s ability to draw the listener into an electro-induced trance.
The drum programming on Tomorrow’s Harvest is more advanced than it has ever been on other BOC records. This is especially evident on the lead single, Reach For The Dead. Despite this, many of the highlights on the record are beatless – for example, the stirring White Cyclosa, which successfully creates a sense of feeling slightly on edge.
Elsewhere, on Telepath, we hear elements of vocals, which involve demonic counting: “Testing/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/Up/Down”. These raspy vocals appear on several tracks on the album, and are distorted in a way which makes each recording sound uncanny. The remarkable New Seeds revolves around a thrashing synth buzz which later blends well with chimes and string layers. Before you know it, the track descends into an eerie mist which leads nicely onto the beautiful mirage of Come To Dust.
Tomorrow’s Harvest is an impossible record to get your head around on first listen – each song on the album is incredibly intricate and instrumentally-dense. You can tell that this album will require a good deal of your time if you are to appreciate it fully. It is full of complex electronic compositions, which will mess with your head if you let them. At times, it is a little overwhelming over the 17 tracks, but there are plenty of beautiful moments here, the sort of moments which continue to propel BOC well ahead of many of their IDM contemporaries.