Boards of Canada - Tomorrow’s Harvest (4 stars)

Boards of Canada - Tomorrow’s Harvest

Ambient electronica comeback from the Edinburgh siblings

(Warp)

Ok, so instead of a normal review I’ve decided to hide a cryptic code in the text here that you, the reader, will have to decipher. If you are able to unlock this riddle, it will lead you to a disused public toilet in Gorgie where you will find an 8-track recording of Brian Blessed drumming out Morse code on his belly. That in turn will give you a unique login which you can use to access this review which will be spelt out using flag semaphore on Instragram pictures taken in various outlets of Greggs.

Only joking! But hey, at least you got a flavour of what it’s like being a Boards Of Canada fanboy/girl. The Edinburgh siblings engaged in a remarkable pre-release campaign that had fans listening to album streams in the Mojave Desert, foraging in shops on Record Store Day for vinyl releases, and watching video broadcasts on the sides of buildings in Japan. It all feeds the cult of personality that the duo have steadily curated over their 18-year music career. Their back catalogue is a quasi-catechism of subliminal messaging, aural stimuli and opaque cryptograms that has kept fans intrigued despite the brothers’ painstakingly slow rate of production, and has given their work a ritualistic and near reverential appeal.

Whatever about the quixotic promo, eight years on from The Campfire Headphase are we any closer to unravelling the mystery and fascination at the centre of Mike and Marcus Sandison’s sound? Happily no. It still remains as enigmatic and bewitching as ever, the brothers utilising their own personal radiophonic workshop to make analogue astral projections a sonic reality. Tomorrow’s Harvest’s title hints at a sense of growth and renewal, but perhaps one that is perpetually around the corner, never to arrive. The album is indeed heavy with typically portentous synth swashes, ominous drum programming and has an ambience that is pregnant with BoC’s benign yet creepy fatalism. There is hope, but it is fleeting.

‘Cold Earth’, ‘Sick Times’ and ‘Nothing Is Real’ all entice us closer to the intoxicating miasma and help establish the album’s mise en scene: the unravelling and temporary beauty at the heart of modern existence.

Boards of Canada - Reach for the Dead (from Tomorrow's Harvest)

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