After six or seven years BOC finally released their next full-length album. It’s been a long wait. From memory, the last one, The Campfire Headphase, was one of the first things I purchased over the internet with my (then) newly-minted credit card (really just a debit card but whatever).
Bleep.com, a digital music store, sent me the link to my purchased download last Friday night—much earlier than I was expecting! And so, each day for the last week I’ve been having a listen to the album to get a feel for it. BOC’s stuff is anti-pop. Pop and successful TV jingles succeed because you can hear them once and they dig into the memory. The melodies and chord progressions in Boards of Canada’s music are much subtler and take time to come out. But this means they also have a much greater longevity and relistenability.
Tomorrow’s Harvest I would say is more of the same, in that the sound of it is similar to their stuff in the past. The last most recent, Campfire Headphase, had a fair bit of guitar used in looping ways which made it a bit different but it was still clearly BOC. “More of the same” isn’t a negative judgment at all, because for the last 6 years fans everywhere have been waiting for more of the same. It’s because of this that they become my number 1 favourite musical performer. Amon Tobin used to be it but then he went off in ambient, unmelodic directions.
This new album, if anything reminds me a bit of their 2002 album, Geogaddi because of the ‘bad trip’ overtones. BOC’s music is often generalised as psychedelic trip music but then sometimes it’s not all happy sounding.
And I think that’s what’s happening with Tomorrow’s Harvest. My take is that it’s a nuclear apocalypse concept album. The artwork: sunrise in San Francisco, but then it looks a bit like an A-bomb just about to go mushroom too. Then there’s the titles of some of the tracks: Reach For The Dead, Cold Earth, Sick Times, Collapse, New Seeds, Come To Dust. New Seeds is interesting because it’s one that really sounds like the title – it reminds me of science and robots planting things on Mars or something.
The music by itself is just music and doesn’t sound down particularly when compared to other BOC stuff, but there’s no samples of kids’ voices counting numbers or singing rhymes. There’s no samples of the original Boards of Canada Public Service Announcements—or if there are they’re so distorted that I can’t tell what they’re saying yet.
From what I’ve read in the rare, odd interview they’ve done, they’re the kind of group that only releases 10% of what they produce, and it may well be possible that this music was made years and years ago. Anyway, I’m really liking the album and I just hope it’s not another 7 years til we hear from Michael and Marcus again.
Ps. (minor congratz to bleep.com on having their shit together better than those idiots at topspin media.)