mon 14/06/2021

CD: Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest

CD: Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest

Scottish pairing adhere to and update Warp Records' original electronic ethos

Boards of Canada, kings of the opaque

Boards of Canada have it nailed. If we are to believe what we’re told, Scottish brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin are semi-permanently holed up in rustic heathlands south-west of Edinburgh, beavering with mystical intensity at analogue electronica. Every few years they release an enigmatic slice of it that’s pure, classic Warp Records on… Warp Records.

They have developed a non-image that somehow intimates whiffs of the occult, particularly of The Wicker Man variety, of spooky 1970s public information films and general uncanny Berberian Sound Studio-style weirdness. Not since the prime of the Aphex Twin has faceless electronic noodle been so devotedly adored. I was short of cash once and sold a 7” of theirs for £120 (no, not the one that used to change hands for £750 – I did do my research). Beyoncé’s cool younger sister Solange even covered one of their songs, and when the pair launched Tomorrow’s Harvest with a live broadcast, their website crashed under the weight of traffic.

With such a mystique very effectively in place, the music must do its work - and it does. Never accidentally stumbling into club throb or chill-out territory, Boards of Canada expertly create a layered electronica that can be mesmeric, and the best of their fourth album is woozily more-ish. "New Seeds", for instance, sounds like a typewriter attempting funk music with a low-key jazz piano accompaniment, while “Nothing is Real” gives off sunset-in-Ibiza vibes but spiked with something sinister. That’s the key to a lot of it, an underlying sense of unease, especially when creepy treated voices pop up on “Split Your Infinites”, but equally on big, widescreen tracks such as the single “Reach for the Dead” or the lush, synthesized tones of “Cold Earth”.

Boards of Canada’s latest, with its obtuse numerological teaser campaign, continues an admirable tradition of tricksy electronic artistry, of avoiding obvious media definition. Their music, often touched with modern classical beauty and gloopy, hypnotic depth, usually lives up to their hipster-geek reputation.

Watch the video for "Reach for the Dead"

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