Enigmatic electronica pioneers Boards of Canada certainly know how to inject a little intrigue and mystique into the relatively mundane process of announcing the release of a new album. For Tomorrow's Harvest, the Scottish duo's latest release, they left a series of cryptic codes scattered across the internet. The trail eventually directed determined fans to a website, where a short video clip announced what had been the subject of much rumour and speculation - Boards of Canada were about to end a seven year barren spell with this, their fourth album.
Any act that employs that kind of elaborate build up needs to be pretty confident they can deliver on expectation. Thankfully for Boards of Canada, Tomorrow's Harvest provides a bountiful supply of what we have come to expect from the duo – they have always managed to invest some warmth into the chilly, austere world of electronic music and Tomorrows Harvest continues to do just that, adding little variations to the Boards of Canada formula along the way. All the elements that have made them one of the most influential acts of this genre are there but whereas before their songs were built around repetitive loops and beats interspersed with vocal samples and vintage effects, now there is a broader, more cinematic sweep to their sound.
The influence of film soundtrack music can be heard on the Blade Runner-esque 'Reach for the Dead' and the ambient sci-fi of 'Telepath'. Their early albums always felt like collections of incomplete song fragments – this is perhaps their first record that nurtures the notion that the songs are constructed to go somewhere, with chord progressions and melodic changes, rather than locked in grooves and loops.
'New Seeds' is a prime example of this - building and layering sounds over a burbling synth line, a pervading sense that there is a destination in sight.
Diehard fans of early, much loved albums Music Has the Right To Children and Geogaddi may cling to the notion that these records will never be bettered but listened to objectively, Tomorrow's Harvest offers plenty of evidence that their best days may not yet be behind them.
Review by Paul Page