Continuing the recent trend for enigmatic album campaigns, brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin, aka Boards Of Canada, announced their fourth studio effort, Tomorrow’s Harvest, via a cryptic Record Store Day stunt which invited fans to discover various hidden codes in order to unlock an exclusive preview of new material.
The Scottish IDM duo’s long-awaited follow-up to 2005’s The Campfire Headphase is equally as challenging as its predecessor. Indeed, drenched in a sense of doom, its seventeen ambient tracks offer little concession to any developments in electronica that have occurred during their eight-year absence, save for the dubstep beat on “Come To Dust.”
Instead, Tomorrow’s Harvest sounds like it was concocted in the middle of the Cold War era with its dependence on ice-cold analogue synths, eerie echoed vocal samples which could have been lifted from 1970s scare-mongering public educational films and an array of unsettling sound effects ranging from a rocket launch (“Transmisiones Ferox”) to morse code (“New Seeds”).
Whilst the likes of closer “Semena Mertvykh” and “Uritual” are little more than tediously drawn-out drones, Boards Of Canada largely manage to infuse their permanent state of paranoia with an intriguing sense of melody.
“Split Your Infinites” is an amusingly-titled nod to the classic horror scores of John Carpenter, the melancholic chill-out of “Nothing Is Real” almost drifts into Café Del Mar territory with its blissful synth hook and disjointed trippy beats, and “Cold Earth” and “Reach For The Dead” are both lushly-textured affairs which combine a sense of the unease with a cinematic quality befitting the record’s widescreen ambitions.
Tomorrow’s Harvest’s lack of immediacy means that even those who scrambled around looking for six-digit codes to hear just a taster of its sound may take a while to digest it all properly. But as resolutely gloomy and sinister as it is, Boards Of Canada have definitely made the whole scavenger hunt worth it.