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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 19 June 2013
wonderfully composed and thought out pieces from one of my favourite bands of all time. I'm already having "Everything you do is a balloon" played at my funeral, albeit for some time yet. The campfire headphase went slightly more acoustic for their last outing which was fine and is nice to experiment with your sounds. However, this instantly feels more like the Classic BOC sounds which are what they do best. I don't know what the people who gave it less stars who claim to be long standing fans are going on about? It's a Boards of canada album so it is going to sound like Boards of canada. They certainly have a distinct sound and this album seems to have heavier percussion on many of the tracks. I also noticed lots of more subtler melodies and rhythms on other songs. Like a fine cheese this matures excellently with age and more listens actually improves the whole experience. You can tell they have deliberately although quite subtly put lots of hidden messages in the album, some of which I may be starting to understand. At the end of the day though these amazing musicians have been and will continue create wonderful, timeless and amazing music. Boards has and will continue to be a wonderful soundtrack to my life and many others. Thank you.
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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 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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on 10 June 2013
As soon as this album was even hinted at in the marketing campaign I got excited. Probably too excited. So, as soon as the album was announced I preordered it, and I can tell you that the eight year wait is worth it.
As soon as the album starts you know it's Boards of Canada. Somehow nobody else can sound quite like them. The opening track has a kind of VHS feel to it. 'White Cyclosa' has a drone-like feel that's quite dissonant at times, and a lot of the first half of Tomorrow's Harvest has a similar feel.
'Palace Posy' had a brighter feel to it than all the tracks before it, which is mostly due to the bassline and the rhythm that the drums generate, and this brighter feel carries on through the latter half of the album. Another great track is 'New Seeds' which seems relentless with it's echoed beats and chilled bass. Although choosing a favourite track wouldn't do this album justice, as it's just so good together.
I'm always a fan of judging bands by how good the albums they make are, and Tomorrow's Harvest is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. It's got that omnipresent analogue feel that Boards of Canada do like no one else, and there seems to be more depth to this album than previous releases. Another worthy mention is that the beats are fantastic throughout the album.
This is a great album, and I can't wait to absorb it even more over the coming days. Any Boards of Canada fan will enjoy this album. A definite five stars, and I really hope we don't have to wait another eight years (and I would love to see them tour, but we all know that's sadly unlikely).
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I will be honest and admit to having never strayed near the audio shore of Boards of Canada and bought this album on a whim. Being a big fan of Aphex Twin and, to a lesse degree, Future Sound Of London, I knew I would be in fairly safe waters buying this album.

And, seems I called it. The album immediately put me in mind of the Environments albums released by FSOL, incessant, slow burning beats awash with feedback and static-choked murmurrings. It's like AFX without the concomitant weirdness and freak outs, sometimes I want my chill-outs to induce a state of bliss and relaxation, not sweat soaked nightmares that are AFX's specialty.

I can see why some decry this music as boring or background sounds, it takes repeated and concentrated listens to appreciate this for what it is and, having sat through the complete album on many occasions wrapped up in my headphones and being transported away, the sounds have grown on me and I really, really like it. Some of the tunes remind me of Orbital a la' Wonky, albeit with the RPM's dialled down a little.

A very intriguing sound and the accompanying booklet neatly encapsulates the images they are trying to conjure, weird industrial radio towers, blurred figures as seen through the cold eye of a camera sensor, whitewashed abstract scenes, broken signage, all very atmospheric and a good visual invocation of the sounds.

If you like AFX, FSOL, Orbital the Orb etc then this will be right up your street, if you yearn for catchy hooks and pop fluff look elsewhere. Me? I love it.
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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 19 June 2013
Having been a little dissapointed with the last BOC album I wasnt that excited despite the minor hype surrounding the new album. After hearing Reach for the Dead however I changed my mind. I know that track and indeed many on the album are not exactly reinventing the wheel but BOC cultivate a unique sound and its nice to hear new material. What I like most is this album seems to be a good mix of the classic BOC sound found on MHTRTC and adds nice bleak B-movie elements. The John Carpenter comparissons are evident but theres also hints of music from old Romero movies and as with all albums of this type multiple plays and decent headphones uncover more layers and textures. All in all a return to form for me although time will tell if it will achieve the same classic status as Music has the right to children.
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There are, I think, some people who may have been hasty in reviewing this album. OK, so "Tomorrow's Harvest" doesn't have the high points of Music Has The Right To Children [New Version], nor does it have its sonic novelty value. But give it time. There is real atmosphere and depth on this record which reveals itself with repeated listens. The concept is implied, not explicit, but would appear to be about the world after some sort of cataclysmic event. A world where nature has taken back hold of Earth but, maybe, where machines and a handful of humans still survive. The music is mildly threatening yet still melodic and compelling. A pessimistic view of the future, to say the least, but a strangely fascinating one. Check out "White Cyclosa" which sounds like some kind of weird requiem for the human race, or "Palace Posy", where the Boards get all Riddley Walker on our asses. That "Tomorrow's Harvest" has a concept of sorts perhaps makes it, for me, a more cohesive listen than The Campfire Headphase or Geogaddi. Then again, revisiting the latter two records now (as this latest release has inspired me to do) they too sound better than ever. Perhaps that was BOC's intention all along?

The 8 year gap between this and their last LP has not been time wasted. Messrs Sandison and Eoin have subtly updated their sound whilst still sounding recognisably like themselves. A gap bridged, and a record that will appear to a wide age range of music fans. A bit of a classic, I think.

Believe the hype - maybe the album of the year.
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on 22 June 2013
It was worth the long wait for Boards of Canada's Tommorows Harvest. I Found this a superbly haunting collection of downtempoe electronica and ambience making the Geogadi album sound ordinary in comparrison!

Tommorows eccelectic collection of chilling shortcuts are on a dark somewhat macabre theme of synths , eerie gothic chants to medieval stone age tribal drums .The whole experience I found tense and atmospheric a roller coaster pleasent nightmare for a late summer night's sound track to a horror film that could be the future Excorcist theme to Hostel, yet cool enough for the crystal shores and lounges of Ibiza.
BOC's unique electronic downbeats are contempory and owe less to others of there genre such as Air and Zero 7 and more to the vintage electronic sounds of Vangelis and Jean Michelle Jarre. Void of broken beats, trip hop soulful neo vocals and hip hop breaks. All in all Tommorows Harvest is a mindblowing experience and along with the recent Bonobo release Northern Borders my album choice for 2013.
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on 30 June 2013
This album is very disappointing. As others have said BoC are a 5 star band who can really turn it out when they put their minds to it, and have done before. All of their previous albums were a progression and do something different whilst maintaining their distinctive sound. And yes, I think "The Campfire Headphase" was criminally underrated. What is absolutely baffling then is that this album sees them so... obvious. Apart from (barely) two tracks, "Reach For The Dead" and "New Seeds" it's a lot of dull post-apocalyptic film soundtrack nonsense mixed in with a leaden retread of previous ideas. Okay, we get it- you think we're doomed. But what does this offer? Nothing. When am I going to want to sit down and listen to what mostly sounds like a Boards of Canada tribute band playing a John Carpenter covers album?? Never. It's an entirely tedious and depressing experience, bereft of the magic that makes their other albums so rewarding. And absolutely worst of all, this is a thematic path many others have tread more effectively before them. Lots of tracks try to go somewhere but most fail, and the noodly dirty mess that results is often. Very. Boring. Indeed.

If this is the result of living in a cottage in the middle of nowhere I'd say it's time for them to burn their George A Romero box sets and move back to civilisation.
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