There’s a bleakness and inwardness that looms, but the clever interweaving of retro and non-electronic elements ensures that we’re not left out in the cold, at the end of the world, all on our own. No future? No worries.

Boards of Canada came onto the electronic scene as a warmer, more accessible alternative to some of the more abrasive, experimental Warp artists.

 

Their fourth album is unmistakable a Boards of Canada record, though the nostalgic feel of their debut has been further diminished, despite the continued reliance on warm, analogue sounds from the ‘70s. Where the choice of a human element was once a child gasping “Orange / Yeah, that’s right!” the first human element on Tomorrow’s Harvest is a sinister vocoder voice counting over and over.

 

Despite this being their least playful album, its pre-release marketing campaign was a light-hearted treasure hunt for music-lovers, with unmarked vinyl offering cryptic clues to Record Store Day shoppers, an introduction to single ‘Reach For The Dead’ at a busy Tokyo intersection and a full playback in a desert’s abandoned leisure park. It was as if the Scottish duo were competing with Daft Punk in a ‘biggest tease’ competition, though the style of their campaigns were very different, as was the resulting music. (The introverted Tomorrow’s Harvest is worlds away from Daft Punk’s disco flash).

 

The cute fanfare that opens Tomorrow’s Harvest is like a movie studio’s intro jingle for a film, which is apt considering the album’s cinematic feel. This is the end of the world, but not in a flashy, big-budget way. To capture the sobering environmental woes of our planet, Boards of Canada mark out a subtle yet rewarding soundscape that is moody and submissive to its doomsday setting.

 

4/5 stars

 

CHRIS GIRDLER

 

 

Tomorrow’s Harvest is out now through Warp/Intertia.

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