Review Summary: The masters of contrast look to the horizon.
There's always a moment in every good album that grabs you and thrusts you into its world without warning and without concern for your soul. Tomorrow's Harvest accomplishes this feeling with its opening notes, a feat rarely achieved by any group. The album opens with a fuzzy horn fanfare before rapidly devolving into a nightmarish dreamscape of blaring noise samples and warm analog keyboards. Before I was even finished with one track I knew that Boards of Canada had done it again. Their music still speaks to my soul at one moment and makes me nervously gaze over my shoulder the next. Their signature brand of IDM is still beautifully lo-fi and atmospheric, and teleports me back to the better times of life, or times I don't even want to remember. What I'm trying to convey is that their music still carries weight, and is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Tomorrow's Harvest is the band's best output in over 10 years and is of such great quality that any other artist regardless of genre would kill to create something like it.
Perhaps what impresses me the most is how Boards of Canada (hereby referred to as BoC) have managed to grow so much as musicians but somehow stay so true to their musical identity as well as themselves as people. The trademark PBS samples and cryptic use of numbers is still present, but an entirely new aura has emerged in the musical backdrop. The nostalgia of Music, the sinister undertones of Geogaddi, and the spaciness of Campfire; BoC somehow meld them all together immaculately. The interlude "Telepath" and concluding track "Semena Mertvykh" could have easily fit anywhere on Geogaddi, with the latter standing up against "You Could Feel The Sky" as the most frightening track under the band's name. On the contrary, there are also cuts like the marvelous "Split Your Infinities" which kicks the album's quality into turbo near its conclusion. "Split Your infinities" is a beautiful, synth-driven piece of music that rivals some of the most sublime moments on Music and Campfire. One thing that is extremely immediate about the album is the fullness of the sound. All of the band's previous work had this sense of restraint to it, even on louder tracks like "Roygbiv". On Harvest, restraint is out the window (for the most part). The album is more grandiose than anything the group have ever produced, proven by just one listen through the steady trek of "Jacquard Causeway" or the thunderous opening chords of "Sick Times". The group also occasionally harkens back to their earlier days, offering two moments of tranquil splendor on "White Cyclosa" and "Sundown".
"White Cyclosa" is the third track on the album and fades in immediately following the bombastic second half of "Reach For The Dead". This is the point where the record shows both sides of its personality, and how they will be expressed on the remaining tracks. Harvest presents an undeniable sense of ebb and flow, possibly being the group's most complete work. The way the music can change in an instant and garner different reactions from each listener based on their perspective is something that only BoC can do this well. What I learned while listening to Tomorrow's Harvest is that Boards Of Canada are the masters of contrast. Despite the record's extremely cohesive nature, it allows itself to jump around to different areas of the listener's psyche without sounding forced or jerky in any way. Placing the haunting "Uritual" between "Split Your Infinities" and "Nothing Is Real" may seem ridiculous on paper, but Boards Of Canada make it work because of how well they invest their audience in what they are doing. They manage to be progressive while sticking to their roots, and their sound still cannot be compared to any other act on the planet. Everything on the record sounds natural and essential to what BoC are trying to accomplish with their music. Not only is this the record we've been dying to hear for eight years, but it's the record that the group was dying to make.
This is a new beginning in the Boards Of Canada canon, a last hurrah to the group we knew last decade. Tomorrow's Harvest may not be Boards Of Canada's best record, but up to this point it is their most important. It's been fifteen years since the release of Music Has The Right To Children, and this record is two men showing how they have changed in this period of time. Not only as musicians, but as people. This record is two men living in sick times, feeling that nothing matters, and that the earth is cold and has come to dust. It represents a struggle, a portrait of their lives and all that has happened to them which nobody knows anything about because of their peculiar, reclusive behavior. The album cover shows the sun rising, and a distant city over the horizon. It summarizes the record perfectly, as the group and all their listeners look forward to tomorrow. Boards Of Canada are asking us to plant new seeds with them. I happily oblige.
Everything from track 11 onward