Boards of Canada release new album Tomorrow’s Harvest in time for fall

Ambiguous sampling, ambivalent drones and a powerful synth pitch that reverberates into your sub-conscious and you know you are listening to a new Boards of Canada release.

Tomorrow’s Harvest was released on June 5 of this year from Warp Records after a lengthy and interactive pre-release campaign. I took my time before writing a review for Tomorrow’s Harvest because this is a record that needs to be absorbed and studied. The first release from brothers’ Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin since 2006’s Trans Canada Highway, and it was my pleasure to wait.

Tonally, the album might just be the brother darkest effort yet, as at the basic level the brothers are channeling what sounds like an amalgam of great synth composers like director John Carpenter, Walter Carlos, and John Harrison among others. No one can deny that the brothers were crafting their own menacing film soundtrack. Along with a palindromic track listing, much is to be discovered; not desired.

This cinematic epic opens with the haunting “Gemini,” a familiar synth note strikes that sounds faintly like a production company. While faint drones echoes throughout, the synth continues to layer building up a feeling of immense suspense. With faint helicopters penetrating the wind, this continues to build into the next track and the first single:  “Reach for the Dead.”

Boards of Canada’s album Tomorrow’s Harvest

What separates this track from the rest of the brothers’ collective work is the introduction of bit-crush drumming. Known for their distortion of instruments, the band continues the feeling of dread with a slowed pitch on the synth that continues to weave between the drumming. “White Cyclosa,” the third track, is strongly influenced by John Harrison’s score for  George A. Romero’s “Day of the Dead,” a fractured synth builds around a continuing desolate, desert ambient. The fourth track and one of my favorites is the relaxed rapture that is “Jacquard Causeway.”

The track is a literal wall of sound that weaves together numerous synth beats and an overbearing drone that pulsates and lulls you into a truly euphoric state. While the music has quite an unsettling, yet nostalgic rhythm to it, the next track, “Telepath,” continues the brothers love of sampling. It is a spiritually annihilating, transmission from a shadowy past. Which makes the next track name, “Transmisiones Ferox,” not much of a coincidence.

While being the most modern-sounding track, you are still trapped in the desolate atmosphere. Then begins your journey into “Sick Times.” Most of the titles, coupled with the vibe of the album, you can tell there is certainly a theme engorged with dystopia.

“Sick Times,” along with “Palace Posy,” “Split Your Infinities,” “Nothing is Real” and “Sundown” are far more based around past works of the duo. What is truly commanding is the framework of the final three tracks “New Seeds,” “Come to Dust,” and “Semena Mertvykh.”

Almost as if representing a cycle of life and death. The soundscape that envelops you is a warmth of  analog, pulsating world shattering synth and drums and this eventually warped out of the most sinister chorus of drones.

Truly, the story is the listeners own to craft but the cinematic crux of the harvest holds true. I have listened to this record countless times and I have to say move over Yeezus and Kanye. Boards of Canada has recored not only the album of the year but is also the most culturally poignant one to boot.