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A failed harvest
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.