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on 8 June 2013
Boards of Canada have always brought a sense of dream like nostalgia with every album they've released, each album being more of a journey into a 'past that never existed', as well as a great listening experience. With Music Has the Right to Children, it seemed to be through such things as public information films, educational documentaries, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and obscure Video Nasties, evoking a sense of longing for that era with child like dream-scapes. Geogaddi was like a dark, demonic, claustrophobic nightmare, those dreams replaced by nightmares and dread that was more `tales of the unexpected' than `tomorrow's world', invoking a darker side to the nostalgia, using mathematics and numerology and reverse speech (A is to B as B is to C, Gyroscope, The Devil Is In the Details). Then came out The Campfire Headphase, (their most accessible offering), which was like an Eno-esque calm down after the storm, the Boards channelling their nostalgic sounds through wobbling folk like music and organic guitars, with soaring epic melodies like `Dayvan Cowboy'. Unfortunately, for BoC, it was a little too 'straight forward', but still a 'pleasant' listen.

With `Tomorrow's Harvest', most of the nostalgia seems to be that of despair and nihilism. It's an album that builds in a new way upon their previous work and casts it in a 'those golden days are over' kind of light that correlates with the direction the world in general seems to be heading. The sounds of a broken world, paranoia of the future, the cold war (echoing the Protect and Survive [DVD] videos that they flirted with on Geogaddi), and the sounds of a planet 'wasting away'. Opener Gemini gives us an immediate false sense of security with a trombone like sound (a bit like something from a 'Protect and Survive' warning video that was broadcast on British TV in the early 80s) before going into full on retro '70s/80s film soundtrack post apocalyptic' mode. `Split your Infinities' contains Dalek like sounds over crunching beats and dark synths. Palace Posy is like a thunderous, Aphex Twin sound alike mantra, and a weird alien type distorted voice towards the end. These vocals seem to appear on a large abundance of the tracks midway through (much like Geogaddi), and the 'subliminal' sounds and messages are perhaps more present than ever, the beats and percussion more diverse and aspiring (the Boards have really triumphed other releases in this department) with ticks, beats and drums that almost leap out in 3-dimensional from all directions, giving a sonic sound-scape of doom and fear. This is certainly an album that rewards multiple listens to 'crack the code' to get your own personal narrative, as well as to admire the ground breaking genius of it's production.

It's an uncompromising yet more than satisfactory effort from the Boards than The Campfire Headphase, and a progression that is exactly what us BoC fans expect (i.e.- it's a grower, and gets better with each and every single listen, has a new theme, e.t.c). If you're looking for catchy tunes that reach through dreams-capes that bring back the fondest memories of youthful innocence it's pretty scarce, but it's still there, lurking beneath the wasted ruins (Cold Earth is classic melodic BoC). This is the sound of (in my interpretation) wanting to leave a chaotic and corrupted planet that our future is headed towards, and to discover new dimensions in space in the search of hope. But I'm sure other BoC fans will have their own, which is the brilliance of their music. Single `Reach for the Dead' fits in well within the context, and a precursor of the spacey, uncertain darkness that is to come, whilst still maintaining that signature sound of 'icy cold warmth'.

Artwork is always important with any Boards of Canada album. Rockets, the earth's destruction, and other planets (or perhaps even relating to Warfare) are all in the cards. There's even a picture of a boot stepping on what looks like the moon. And as for earth? You only need to take a look at the album cover and a few other pictures of Threads [DVD] [1984] like dystopian cities and landscapes. And as usual, the artwork compliments the sounds perfectly (not to mention the track titles).

BoC sound more 'alien', yet concise, than ever. Even on the beautiful, multi layered melodic classic 'New Seeds', you can hear a warbled sample from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' at the end. This is essentially BoC's 'exploration of youth, space, and 21st century dystopia', which might explain why the nostalgia sounds bleaker, more hopeless and paranoid. A few tracks contain a 10-0 countdown to 'pushing the button' of a nuclear missile, with firey sounds in the background. So yeah, pretty different from 'The Campfire Headphase'.

It ends with the 'Corsair' like 'Semena Mertvykh', a final short, dark ambient piece that sounds like a planet lacking hope, a finale of planet earth 'soaring through space' out of sheer sadness and desperation. It's the sound of the end of times.

Tomorrows Harvest (named after 'an online clothing and supplies store that seems to cater for crisis scenarios - frozen and sealed food supplies, gas masks, and solar power') is a very strong, yet unremittingly bleak (their bleakest yet), return from The Boards, those childhood dreams of the past now shattered by a dark and uncertain future, a journey through sonic firey landscapes, channelled through the murky era of 70s and 80s dystopian film synth scores (of the Video Nasties variety), combining the classic sounds of their back catalogue with exciting new twists. And they do a damn fine job taking you to this strange, dissonant yet terrifying place, that will have you pressing the replay button time and time again until countdown to 0.
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on 10 June 2013
It has been a long time since the wonderful Campfire Headphase. Like many people, I waited patiently, hoping that if another album did arrive, it would be worth the wait. I suspected (rather hoped) that the Sandison brothers were busy piecing together a masterpiece, in meticulous detail as precisely and as thoroughly as they could - fretting over each note, texture or nuance. But can one really say that Tomorrow's Harvest was eight years in the making? It cannot possibly have taken eight years to produce this. This is not the `masterpiece' that I was hoping for - nowhere near it. We can only guess at what the Sandison brothers have been doing during all this time. But I suspect their creative energies needed reviving - there was simply no inspiration - and on the evidence of this album, they haven't managed to climb out of the trough yet. Trouble is, I suspect that Tomorrow's Harvest was never going to reach my expectation because it really did not take anything like eight years to produce. What drove them to release something is anybody's guess, but it doesn't strike me as being a driven by any sense of having something new to say. The album feels lazy and uninspiring and not a patch on what they have done before. By normal standards, the album is `good'. If I'd never heard of BoC before and bought this I'd think it was not a waste of money as such, but it wouldn't blow me away either. But I expected a lot more from the Sandison brothers and, in my humble opinion, they don't deliver - particularly given all the hype.

The album sounds like a band looking back at its career rather than looking forward. That's fine, many bands do it, but since that is a process of regurgitation it shouldn't take that long to do. There are a few okay moments here and there - `Jacquard Causeway', `Split Your Infinities' and `Uritual' for example. But the warning signs appeared when `Reach for the Dead' was released. My reaction, on hearing the download from Bleep, went from great expectation to one of puzzlement as to why Warp released that track as it did nothing for me. Now I know why, along with the above it is in fact one of the more cohesive tracks on the album. But the 'moments' only pop up from what is otherwise bland and uninteresting. I read an interview where the brothers refer to hidden nuggets involving numerology and the like. Well I am sure they are there, and I'm sure there are people that will spend hours looking for them, but I don't particularly care - I want to hear creativity, not superficial puzzles etc.

The other issue is the theme - Area 51, the post nuclear test ranges of New Mexico and survivalism - hardly new is it? It's all been looked at before. Along with that there is the overall presentation, which is just too direct for a BoC album. What has happened to the more subtle references of MHTRTC, Geogaddi and Campfire (where you sense a theme, but cannot quite put your finger on it)? Again, it all seems to point to the band being in something of a creative rut.

But it has still, so far,, been a good year for new albums - Autechre's `Exai', Primal Scream's `More Light' and The Flaming Lips `The Terror' just to name a few - it just a shame that BoC can't be added to that list. But I'm hopeful that the brothers will one day rediscover their `mojo', but if not - I'll always have that fabulous trio of albums and the EPs to listen to.
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on 10 June 2013
For anyone unfamiliar to the mysterious Boards of Canada, aka brothers Marcus and Mike Sandison, they've achieved near legendary status amongst electronic music circles since their magnificent debut `Music Has the Right to Children' back in 1998. Their last album `The Campfire Headphase' was released in 2005, so for many fans `Tomorrow's Harvest' is probably the most anticipated musical release this year, it certainly is for me.

After such a long wait and so much expectation, its difficult to be objective with `Tomorrows Harvest. As soon as the opening `Gemini' plays, you know this is a Boards of Canada album. Its an underwhelming opening, `Reach for the Dead' and `White Cyclosa' glide along but this is all familiar Boards of Canada territory, there's got to be more to this album, surely? And then it happens, `Jacquard Causeway' arrives and snares you right in your sweet spot. A wobbly tape-distorted melody is quickly accompanied by some rumble and snare drums, its all barely held together. The melody gathers emphasis, piercing synths and the drums follow suit, layers upon layers of beats and loops unite into a thrilling, luminous cloud of bliss. Its one of the best tracks Boards of Canada have ever recorded, and whats makes them such a pleasure to the ears.

By `Cold Earth', you can hear the sounds of their second album `Geogaddi' taking shape on the rest of the album. But on this album, the bass is deeper, the drums are harder. The overall tone is one of menace and it even sounds confrontational, tracks like `Palace Posy' and `Sick Times' underline this stark streak. Tracks like `Split Your Infinites', `Semena Mertvykh' and especially album highlight `Uritual' are slower, darker and occasionally terrifying. The latter track is barely audible, but theres enough amongst its murmuring fragility to creep you out like no other Boards of Canada track i've heard before.

Boards of Canada's last album `The Campfire Headphase' was a real let-down after the brilliance of `Music Has the Right to Children' and `Geogaddi', `Tomorrows Harvest' is a better album than its predecessor. As with all of Boards of Canada's music it will take a few listens to seize its atmosphere, but there is no seismic shift in musical style, all the key ingredients to their signature sound are present. Fans will be reassured to have them back, there's at least half a dozen magical tracks on this album which will keep the legions of fans happy. But if you've listened to their other albums `Tomorrows Harvest' may sound like you've heard it all before, there are few if any surprises, and that is its big failing.

Rating 7/10
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on 25 July 2013
Being quite new to Boards Of Canada, I listened to this album with relatively fresh ears having only listened to the occasional song from them prior so I had barely any expectations, boy was I in for a pleasant surprise!

Upon the first play through on the CD I had that feeling where you know that what you've just listened to was epic beyond proportions but, simultaneously, it hasn't yet sunk in! All of those little intricate details will peel away like an onion the more and more you listen.

As of writing this, I'm easily 10 full play throughs and it still hasn't become boring or monotonous. I find it's best to play in the background whilst reading (lyrics tend to put me off what I'm reading) or at night laying in bed with it playing softly (I've often fell asleep to it).

I only have one minor gripe...

I may confess now to being pedantic about this but nonetheless it's bugged me and that's the inclusion of the 10th song 'Palace Posy'. The song felt a little too 'punchy' for my liking especially as all the previous tracks had carried me along so smoothly through musical enchantment.I hate to say this because I love this album so much but I felt it really did feel out of place and unnecessarily included but that's just my opinion and my guess is that a lot of people don't mind the song but for some reason it breaks the continuity for me.

Overall I give this little gem by B.O.C a 4.9; if pure relaxation is what you're after you must pick this one up! I play it when I need to relax and it does just that. It's definitely making me seek out more of their work.

08/10/13 edit:

Since writing this review I still religiously play the album, it great listening to on near enough any occasion. Come night time, I lay in bed, have this on at a low volume, light an incense stick and just drift away into the deep abyss of calmness and serenity. Not all ambient music has this affect on me and I listen to a varying amount of it.
I know this will be a timeless classic that I'll continue to pick up. I also now love all of their other work which takes prescience within my collection. They seem to have got better throughout their musical career and not all musicians can accomplish that. So hats off to these masters of relaxation and I anticipate their next release!

...oh and regrettably I still skip track 10. Oh well, that's my problem.
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on 13 November 2013
First century philosopher (and Roman emperor) Marcus Aurelius had a lot to say about the nature of change. "On death. Either dispersal, if we are atoms: or if we are a unity, extinction or a change of home". (Meditations)

Brian Eno conjures up millennia of change (past, present and future) in a simple, slightly chilling 3 word title: "Before and After Science". Before And After Science

Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse 5 repeats the phrase "so it goes" anytime anything dies. Not a signal of sorrow or mourning, more an acknowledgement of the inevitable. Although maybe there's often a hint at the absurdity at its timing or circumstances.(Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death)

There are clues as to what this record's about. The title Palace Posy - while on the surface a pleasant image of a 15th century palace and a bunch of flowers - is also an anagram of apocalypse. Semena Mertvykh is a transliteration of the Russian script Семена мертвых, which translates as Seeds of the Dead. (I didn't work these things out for myself by the way, I was told them. No university for G. O'D and no mistake!)

The record doesn't really present us with detail though, and it's all the better for that. There's no explicit nuclear war theme - and who knows, maybe a far-future apocalypse will involve things that are far worse than the dark toys the Manhattan Project dreamed up. The events of August 1945 do kind of cast a shadow over this record though.

Sonically, this is great stuff from end to end and it's the only BoC record I can say that about - not that MHTRTC and Geogaddi didn't have their moments, of course. In fact there are no moments in Tomorrow's Harvest where you hear a great bit of tune that you instantly want to rewind the tape and play again. It's just not that kind of record. At the risk of sounding like a bit of a James Blunt (if I don't already - cheers) this record takes you on a journey. Thermodynamics, the fall of empires, civilisations, entire species - it's all here. And it just about avoids pretension - unlike me.
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VINE VOICEon 17 December 2013
My love affair with Boards of Canada began when I heard An Eagle In Your Mind on the Czech radio station Radio Jedna when I was in sub-arctic China. This is perhaps the pick of several very fine tracks on Music Has A Right To Children, an album produced when the band were at the peak of their powers.

BOC are the fathers of their own sub-genre, a distinctly weird and wistful electronica that takes you back to your childhood. When you look at their music as notes on a stave they are just simply great composers, but there's no doubt that they can do things with synthesizers and samples that make similar artists seem a bit ordinary and similar. A BOC release is an event.

However, BOC have fallen prey to what almost every pop artist has before them. The big 40. I don't know what it is, other than the ageing process, I suppose, but for me the point when an artist suddenly loses the edge seems to be around the 40 mark, give or take. Tomorrow's Harvest is big on brooding atmosphere and is still good in the grand scheme of things but it's not the BOC I fell for. If I heard this on the radio, I wouldn't be jotting details of the band down. I might not even notice it.

As it is, I've listened to it scores of times hoping it would grow on me. (I bought the 24 bit version in anticipation of it being good). It hasn't and I'm a little disappointed.
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on 16 June 2013
Boards of Canada might be a 5* name, but that doesn't mean everything they do is 5*! And this is a good example of something that is not. It seems to me that many are over-egging the 'brilliance' of this release. I've been a fan from the beginning and I have very eclectic tastes. But Tomorrow's Harvest is such a disappointment - really. It has nothing to do with my changing tastes - I still listen to the same things I have always done. It's to do with me having confidence in my ability to recognise artistic integrity and creativity over something that has neither. Listen with critical ears and it becomes obvious that there isn't very much here. Repeated listens? I have better things to do in my life. And I'm experienced enough to no that there is nowhere near enough depth in this to warrant those precious hours of life. Whilst I write this I have The Campfire Headphase playing (and that's the truth). After 8 years of listening it still sounds fresher than Tomorrow's Harvest. The band that wrote Satellite Anthem Icarus and Tears From The Compound Eye is nowhere to be found in Tomorrow's Harvest. BoC have reached for the dead, and found them....
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on 9 August 2013
Seven long years since the Trans Canada Highway EP. Then the strange change on the website 'transmisiones...' and then flickers of news finally giving way to the Boards 4th full album.
I got it over a month ago, and it has not stopped, suiting the unusual still heat of the summer we have been getting. Looking through the sleeve booklet you'll find fairly typical 70's style photos yet most , when thought of as a continuous piece seem to paint a picture of surveillance in a world that seems dusty and shattered.
So the music! Well to say 'brilliant' is too easy. Its great too of course, but not in the way that 'heroes' by bowie is a great song for this is captivating in a whole different way. So different that frankly I'm not sure why its great, only that it is so immersive and its not letting go!
It begins with a 70's style tv broadcast announcement 'jingle' and thrusting us into gemini; with lush bass and radio frequencies, alluding to my theory on the surveillance theme, and at which point 'the campfire headphase' is already a distant dream and I'm nearer to a 'beautiful place out in the country'. Except this is not beautiful, this is dark.
Reach for the dead, has that unmistakeable BoC bass with a rich depth of sound pulsating almost from the heart of the earth itself. This, to me, is one of BoC's most sublime moments; there is much time at the beginning of this track where nothing particularly happens, its all in the tones before the beat and pace picks up then dumps you and leaves you, (well, me anyway) feeling bewildered.
White Cyclosa is a spider apparently, (I didn't know), and here it is coming, creepng up quite fast, and then pounding....
Escape onto 'jacquard causeway' with its throbbing relentless beat and classic Boards sound, distorted yet wonderfully melodic . I could go on, but you should find out for yourself and go on your own journey with it, I don't know where it leads, it hasn't finished with me yet but its the best BoC journey yet.
While Geogaddi has been my favourite album and 'a beautiful place....' my favourite ep this could uproot both. It certainly follows on better from those and perhaps some of 'twoism' and 'music has the right' than the 'campfire...' whch I still struggle with.
So is it all brilliant? Well, I don't particularly like 'palace posy' to the point I don't even know what its doing here, its title and clumsy rhythm jar against my vision of what's going on with this album.... although the track does get better at the end! Cold Earth is standard Boards so it gets no prizes either, but then you get moments of genius like the achingly hauntingly beautiful 'split your infinties', and 'come to dust' amongst others that make it, on balance, brilliant!!
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on 8 October 2013
"Perhaps the only album in three years (since 2010's Gorillaz Plastic Beach) that I waited and anticipated for to buy at first release and on hard copy. Scottish electronic music duo bring back their experimental and moody flair with Tomorrow's Harvest, a collection of 17 pieces complementing much of their nostalgic, analogue-sounding cues with more high-definition sound and menace.

The album takes much more a Geogaddi direction in its sound design and mood than Campfire Headphase (which is phenomenal in case the haters deny) and Music Has the Right... At first a hard one to try and grasp as the album acted a bit sluggish and compromising at the beginning, the second try at listening to it was a bit more rewarding which is why I did not automatically give it a 5-star review. Issues of immediacy and variety did arise in the beginning as I heard this album. The beginning with the recently known and very sci-fi-like Reach for the Dead did not kick-start with much surprise or intrigue as An Eagle in Your Mind or Chromakey Dreamcoat (the first ever BoC song I ever heard, in truth).

As I got grasp of much of their signature elements and the funky-psychedelic rhythms, then I started developing my already obsessive interest of the album. Within respected order, Jacquard Causeway (while repetitive, it was still spectacular with much of its Burial-esque drumming pattern), Telepath (clearly BoC from the haunting voice sample and editing), Palace Posy (which sounds like slow-tuned jungle meets French electronica act Deep Forest), Nothing is Real (cheerful, beautifully done, and romantic in a kind of way), New Seeds (calculating and a bit like the Tortoise song, Djed), and the difficult-to-pronounce Semena Merlvykh (a foreboding, extremely well-done orchestral type of piece that could have fitted the Prometheus soundtrack any day and made it more appreciable to its already displeased fans). The artwork is also complementary with some abstract and naturalistic designs of Californian desert, military buildings, and grainy shots of outer San Francisco which are well-done in its 8mm like film but kind of contradictory to their image as either Canadians or Scottish.

The unpredictability and nature vibe is what them interesting in the first place. I got this album for that reason just mentioned and because I am a rather big fan of their work. Thankfully, much of it did not disappoint and they stayed to their guts unlike the increasingly-pop Royksopp and Hot Chip, or the same old, same old Autechre. Thankfully, BoC reign high and strong with their strange melodic standards compared to other musicians who have had long waits from its respected fans like My Bloody Valentine, Daft Punk, and David Bowie."
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on 13 August 2013
As a long time fan I was over the moon to hear about the new release. But I'm afraid several months of listening and I'm still as disappointed as the day it was released. Its typical BOC sound but without that stroke of genius. Its mostly flat and doesn't particularly excite. 4 or 5 of the tracks would have made a great EP, but the rest I just find boring.
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