- BOARDS OF CANADA - TOMORROW’S HARVEST (WARP/V2)
- A disclaimer upfront: this is not a thought-out judgement, this is the first impression of a fan who on May 15th had the privilege of listening twice to the new record of his favourite band at the headquarters of the distributor for The Netherlands, and knows that the records of his favourite band only start to descend after a couple of months and even years later still can bring a tear to my eye. A fan who's realistic enough to realise that his heroes won't be able to surprise him anymore and secretely hopes that every record sounds like the previous one, even if there's an eight year gap between them.
- Well, that fan concludes there's nothing new under the Hexagon Sun. Nothing proves the world has simply continued turning ever since the last time Marcus and Michael Sandison made themselves heard from their bunker. The 17 tracks of Tomorrow's Harvest contain no influences that weren't already on The Campfire Headphase (2005). Their electronics (without guitarloops this time) still sounds mysterious, psychedelic, heartbreaking and bewitched.
- You could say this is stagnation, but it's better to turn it around: no band sounds so much like itself and creates such strong references to the (nostalgic) world they created themselves, as Boards Of Canada. As if they were caught in a cocoon for eight years and now fly out as a rare exotic butterfly. For a split second the playful melody of Palace Posy made me think of The Black Dog/Plaid, but still, nobody else could've made this record, not even with the templates that were available for the last 15 years.
- Gemini (a reference to the brotherhood?) opens characteristic as a reference melody from the 70’s; half way through track two, Reach for the Dead, pushes the icy BoC-beat, a combination of rolling and clicking sounds, a watermark to the out of tone synth sound - another trademark - and then you know: soon the rainbow will appear in the sky. Jacquard Causeway, the fourth and longest song, is one of those magical moments, when different keyboard melodies slowly melt together to an empty minimal piece that sucks you into the deep. Only then, in Telepath, the vocal samples arise. ‘Testing, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.’ It is, with some demonic distortion, indeed and hurray, Boards of Canada by numbers (we will know what Beelzebub has to say on this record when the most fanatic fans have played Split Your Infinities in reverse.) Then, Cold Earth is an as hallucinatory ride as Trans Canada Highway’s ‘Left Side Drive’. Sick Times, Palace Posy (with a comparable refrain to ‘1969 in the sunshine’), Nothing is Real and New Seeds are the other most catchy, rhythmic tracks. Pay close attention to how the synth theme of New Seeds opens after four minutes, as the sun breaking through the clouds, so gracefully.
- It is the final light before we enter the tunnel. With Come to Dust (a reference to Shakespeare’s Cymbeline?) and the slowly withering Semena Mertvykh (Russian for Seeds of the Dead), Tomorrow’s Harvest ends just like The Campfire Headphase, in minor, with Death, which remains the main motive to the album, so it seems. And again there is enough to guess, after this rare sign of life from one of the most enigmatic bands from the past two decades. KOEN POOLMAN
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