Album Review

Tomorrow's Harvest

Tomorrow's Harvest

by Boards of Canada

8 / 10
2nd July 2013

Reviewed by Paul Larsen

It’s been eight years since we last heard from Boards of Canada but they’re back and they’ve spent the intervening years creating something remarkable – the perfect soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist. Tomorrow’s Harvest is the first record from the Scottish electronic duo since 2005’s The Campfire Headphase and while it doesn’t herald a significant new direction or sound, it serves as a fitting culmination of their career to date as well as being one of their most intriguing works.

Announcing its intentions early, the record’s first track ‘Gemini’ opens with a 20th Century Fox style brass intro which quickly gives way to a slow burning strings and synth piece which grasps your attention immediately. Maybe it isn’t the most subtle of introductions but the effect is uncannily like having the theatre lights dim around you as the movie starts.

Once the scene has been set, the record’s lead single ‘Reach for the Dead’ is up next; a single kick drum keeping the song grounded while an eerie but purposeful soundscape builds around it. From here, Tomorrow’s Harvest is for the most part a tightly scripted and engrossing affair. Slow building, off key synths are matched briefly with irregular drum beats before being abruptly pulled and building up all over again. As with any great film, the ebbs and flows of this ‘dialogue’ are punctuated with moments of calculated action. ‘Cold Earth’ being the perfect example with the comparatively raucous beats lifting your foot tapping to positively frenetic levels.

On screen, it’s easy to imagine how the cinematic version of this record could play out. Songs crash-cut into each other (‘Collapse’ into ‘Palace Posy’), build scene setting landscapes (‘Come to Dust’) and even have us delving into the protagonists headspace (‘Nothing is Real’). There aren't always enough of these bright spots to keep your attention through the quieter points of the record however, and it’s the trademark interspersing pieces which often run the risk of disappearing into the background entirely.

The overarching impression however, is of a melancholic story beautifully told. It’s both personal and industrial. It’s as much a science fiction soundtrack as the score of an Attenborough wildlife special and if the film to this soundtrack did exist, it would certainly be worth waiting eight years for.

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