Tomorrow's Harvest

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Tomorrow's Harvest
A sun-lit picture of a city skyline during daytime. Black bold text above reads "Boards of Canada Tomorrow's Harvest".
Studio album by Boards of Canada
Released 5 June 2013 (2013-06-05)
Recorded 2005 (2005)–2012 (2012) at Hexagon Sun near Pentland Hills, Scotland
Genre Ambient, downtempo, IDM
Length 62:07
Label Warp
Producer Marcus Eoin, Mike Sandison
Boards of Canada chronology
Trans Canada Highway
(2006)
Tomorrow's Harvest
(2013)
Singles from Tomorrow's Harvest
  1. "Reach for the Dead"
    Released: 23 May 2013 (2013-05-23)

Tomorrow's Harvest is the fourth studio album by the Scottish electronic music duo Boards of Canada, released on 5 June 2013 on Warp. Band members Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin began composing and recording the album following the release of The Campfire Headphase (2005) and the expansion of their studio at Hexagon Sun near Pentland Hills. The duo continued recording intermittently until late 2012, when large parts of the album were recorded. Influenced by film soundtracks from the 1970s, Tomorrow's Harvest features a more downtempo form of ambient music, similar to Boards of Canada's earlier releases.

Tomorrow's Harvest's announcement was surrounded by a cryptic marketing campaign that began on Record Store Day 2013 with the release of an unannounced non-album single, "------ / ------ / ------ / XXXXXX / ------ / ------", which featured part of an unidentified code. A further five codes were released interim through various media and culminated in users gaining access to a new website containing information about the upcoming release. Tomorrow's Harvest was the first new music released by Boards of Canada in seven years, since Trans Canada Highway (2006). Upon its release, the album received critical acclaim and high international chart placings.

Background[edit]

Following the release of The Campfire Headphase (2005), Boards of Canada members Marcus Eoin and Mike Sandison "took some time out, and spent some time travelling." The duo expanded their recording studio at Hexagon Sun near Pentland Hills, south-west of Edinburgh, Scotland and "begun sketching out things" for Tomorrow's Harvest. Eoin revealed that "some of the early sketches" for the album were done in rural New Zealand.[1]

Recording[edit]

The recording sessions for Tomorrow's Harvest began immediately following the release of The Campfire Headphase in 2005, however, in an interview with The Guardian, Marcus Eoin claimed that the band "got heavily into tying it all up [in 2012]." The sessions were held at the band's own recording studio, Hexagon Sun near Pentland Hills, Scotland. Describing the sessions, Eoin said he and Sandison "definitely prefer working away from the city because there's a timeless thing in our environment. In an urban setting you can't really escape being reminded of the current year, and music fashions and so on."[1]

During the recording sessions, Boards of Canada used a wide range of vintage hardware and equipment, including an effects unit "that cost [Eoin and Sandison] a lot of time and road miles to source." The band used minimal amounts of drum machine and samplers and used "real live drumming and percussion", which was later "woven into the rhythm tracks." The recording process also included Eoin and Sandison "throw[ing] tracks back and forward at each other." Speaking of the process, Sandison said that "sometimes we jam the core idea down as a take, or one of us will start something and hand it over, and vice-versa. There isn't really one method or any particular strength for either of us because it changes from track to track. We both write melodies but at the same time we're both technicians in some way, so the process is quite unpredictable and messy."[1]

Composition[edit]

Tomorrow's Harvest features seventeen tracks written and composed by Marcus Eoin and Mike Sandison. In an interview with The Guardian, Sandison discussed the songwriting process of the tracks, stating: "we often jam something down quickly and you tend to find those things are the ones with a great instant melody." Sandison said that "crafting the tunes into a specific style and time period we want to reference" was a challenging aspect of the process, further noting that "there's a deliberate VHS video-nasty element throughout the record", which was achieved by timing changes in the composition and music to simulate film soundtracks from "around 30 years ago."[1]

Sandison elaborated on the elements of the compositions, including the introduction on "Gemini" and the final sections of "New Seeds", and hoped that they would "imply a visual element." He further explained that some of the tracks finish prematurely, "like actual cues in older soundtracks where they've been ripped out of much longer original masters that nobody ever gets to hear." Sandison described Tomorrow's Harvest's final track, "Semena Mertvykh", as having "a deliberate feeling of complete futility." However, he later claimed that the album was "loaded with patterns and messages" and that the duo used more subliminals on Tomorrow's Harvest than they had on their previous studio albums.[1]

Several film soundtrack composers influenced Tomorrow's Harvest's sound. Boards of Canada listed John Carpenter, Fabio Frizzi, John Harrison and Mark Isham, as well as "grim 70s and 80s movie soundtrack" composers, such as Stefano Mainetti, Riz Ortolani, Paul Giovanni and Wendy Carlos.[1]

Packaging[edit]

The front cover artwork for Tomorrow's Harvest features a blurred shot of the city skyline in San Francisco, California, United States. The photograph was taken from Alameda Naval Air Station, a closed naval air station in Alameda, on the San Francisco Bay. Two of the tallest buildings in San Francisco's skyline, 345 California Center and 555 California Street, are reversed on the album's artwork.[2] Commenting on the artwork, Marcus Eoin referred to it as "an ingredient of the theme on this record" and added, "if you look again at the San Francisco skyline on the cover, it's actually a ghost of the city. You're looking straight through it."[1]

Online music magazine The Quietus speculated that the album title was inspired by Deadly Harvest, a 1977 film about climate change and widespread crop failures in North America, noting that "this idea seems to be reflected by the song titles", in particular "Cold Earth", "Sick Times" and "New Seeds", as well as "the album sleeve and the overall mood of the record."[3] However, Boards of Canada have denied that Tomorrow's Harvest deals with post-apocalyptic themes, stating "it is about an inevitable stage that lies in front of us."[1]

Release[edit]

Tomorrow's Harvest's announcement was preceded by a cryptic advertising campaign beginning on Record Store Day 2013. The campaign revealed information about the upcoming release through the distribution of six strings of six-digit numbers.[4] Four of the six codes were released to BBC Radio 1, NPR, Adult Swim and the fansite Twoism; another was released through an unannounced 12" single, "------ / ------ / ------ / XXXXXX / ------ / ------", which contained a brief snippet of music and the code; and a sixth code was featured in a YouTube video. Upon the launch of a new Boards of Canada web site, Cosecha Transmisiones (Spanish for "Harvest Transmissions"), the combined codes were used as a password to allow users access to an exclusive video and link to pre-order Tomorrow's Harvest.[5]

On 23 May 2013, "Reach for the Dead" was premiered on Zane Lowe's show on BBC Radio 1 and released as Tomorrow's Harvest's lead single.[6] On 3 June, Boards of Canada premiered the album through a live stream on YouTube,[7] which caused the band's official web site to crash due to "phenomenal demand."[8] Tomorrow's Harvest was broadcast in full in four independent records stores in Ireland on 7 June and in twenty-six stores in the United Kingdom on 10 June in celebration of the album's release.[9]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 85/100[10]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[11]
Clash 9/10[12]
Consequence of Sound 4/5 stars[13]
Drowned in Sound 9/10[14]
DIY 8/10[15]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[16]
The Independent 5/5 stars[17]
Pitchfork Media 8.3/10[18]
PopMatters 9/10[19]
Spin 9/10[20]

Upon its release, Tomorrow's Harvest received critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews and ratings from mainstream critics, the album has received a metascore of 85, based on 35 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."[10] Allmusic rated Tomorrow's Harvest four and a half stars out of five and reviewer Heather Phares said that although "the album doesn't reveal any dramatic changes; this is undeniably the work of Boards of Canada, filled with the melancholy melodies and subtly edgy rhythms", adding "it is as comforting as a collection of quietly menacing android fever dreams."[11] Clash reviewer Robin Murray rated the album nine out of ten, noting that the album "does come with considerable ballast. A sparse, at times morbid middle section does feel tired, over-extended, with the atmosphere of foreboding perhaps being over-played. Yet throughout there are fine ideas billowing out of the slipstream" and summarised that it "burns as brightly as anything they have accomplished thus far."[12] Writing for Consequence of Sound, Michael Roffman noted that the "seraphic ambiance of 1998's Music Has the Right to Children [...] reemerges weathered and with a newfound sense of purpose" and described Tomorrow's Harvest as "emotionally-stirring, calculated epic of ambient electronica",[13] awarding it four out of five stars.

Drowned in Sound writer George Bass said that Tomorrow's Harvest "managed to successfully touch every part of Boards of Canada's back-catalogue" but added "like My Bloody Valentine, [Boards of Canada] give believers what they want and then carefully expand on it", adding it was "immediately dark and succulent, conjuring a beautiful air of malice" in his nine out of ten review.[14] Writing for The Guardian, Dorian Lynskey rated the album four stars out of five and described it as "their most cinematic and vast-sounding album yet, suggestive of barren plains and burning skies, wonder and dread, watching and being watched", concluding "Tomorrow's Harvest may not shout for your attention, but it certainly rewards it."[16] The Independent reviewer Laurence Phelan noted that "there is joy in these grooves; the attentive care of studio perfectionists, and the warm embrace of an old friend" and that the album "is instantly and unmistakably identifiable as their own", awarding it a full five star rating.[17]

Pitchfork Media rated Tomorrow's Harvest 8.3 out of 10 and labelled it among 2013's "Best New Music." Reviewer Mark Richardson described it as the "most internally focused of Boards of Canada's records. Rather than working around the edges of their sound in search of new territory, Tomorrow's Harvest finds them drawing back toward the center" and noted how "the creative energy [..] is directed toward building textures, which are very deep and rich indeed."[18] Sean McCarthy of PopMatters summarised that "though demanding repeated listens, Tomorrow's Harvest distinguishes itself by making intense commitment" and noted that the album "continues that tradition of complexity and accessibility" in his nine out of ten review.[19] Spin's Andy Beta rated Tomorrow's Harvest nine out of ten and said that "the record draws more from cinema than contemporaneous electronic music", noting that it "captures Terence Malick's magic-hour light; there's also David Lynch's sense of dread coursing beneath the mundane; the arpeggio-heavy synths that underpin early-'80s horror-movie soundtracks; the Hammer Films catalog; and The Wicker Man itself."[20]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Marcus Eoin and Mike Sandison

No. Title Length
1. "Gemini"   2:56
2. "Reach for the Dead"   4:47
3. "White Cyclosa"   3:13
4. "Jacquard Causeway"   6:35
5. "Telepath"   1:32
6. "Cold Earth"   3:42
7. "Transmisiones Ferox"   2:18
8. "Sick Times"   4:16
9. "Collapse"   2:49
10. "Palace Posy"   4:05
11. "Split Your Infinities"   4:28
12. "Uritual"   1:59
13. "Nothing Is Real"   3:52
14. "Sundown"   2:16
15. "New Seeds"   5:39
16. "Come to Dust"   4:07
17. "Semena Mertvykh"   3:30
Total length:
62:07

Personnel[edit]

All personnel credits adapted from Tomorrow's Harvest's liner notes.[21]

Boards of Canada

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Australian ARIA Albums Chart[22] 24
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[23] 7
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[24] 33
Canadian Albums Chart[25] 12
Danish Albums Chart[26] 23
Dutch Albums Chart[27] 19
Finnish Albums Chart[28] 28
French SNEP Albums Chart[29] 130
German Albums Chart[30] 52
Irish Albums Chart[31] 7
Irish Independent Albums Chart[32] 2
Japenese Oricon Albums Chart[33] 27
New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart[34] 26
Norwegian Albums Chart[35] 9
Scottish Albums Chart[36] 4
Spanish Albums Chart[37] 93
Swedish Albums Chart[38] 32
Swiss Hitparade Albums Chart[39] 35
UK Albums Chart[40] 7
UK Dance Albums Chart[41] 3
UK Indie Chart[42] 1
US Billboard 200[43] 13
US Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums[44] 2
US Billboard Digital Albums[45] 8
US Billboard Independent Albums[46] 2
US Billboard Tastemaker Albums[47] 3

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label Distributor Catalogue
Japan[48] 5 June 2013 2×LP, CD, DD Warp Beat Records BRC-382
Australia[49] 7 June 2013 Inertia N/A
Europe[50] 10 June 2013 Warp WARP257
North America[50] 11 June 2013

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Pattison, Louis (6 June 2013). "Boards of Canada: We've become a lot more nihilistic over the years | Music". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Port, Ian S. (29 April 2013). "Why is San Francisco on the Cover of the New Boards of Canada Album? – Music". SF Weekly. San Francisco Newspaper Company. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Clay, Joe (27 May 2013). "Features | Track-By-Track | Boards of Canada's Tomorrow's Harvest". The Quietus. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Minsker, Evan; Phillips, Amy (29 April 2013). "Boards of Canada's New Album: Tomorrow's Harvest | News". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Michaels, Sean (30 April 2013). "Boards of Canada announce new first new album in eight years | Music". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Minsker, Evan; Phillips, Amy (23 May 2013). "Watch/Listen: Boards of Canada: Reach for the Dead | News". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Minsker, Evan (3 June 2013). "Stream Boards of Canada's Tomorrow's Harvest Now | News". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
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  11. ^ a b "Tomorrow's Harvest – Boards of Canada: Songs, Reviews, Credit, Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Murray, Robin (5 June 2012). "Boards of Canada – Tomorrow's Harvest | Review". Clash. Clash Music. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
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  14. ^ a b Bass, George (4 June 2013). "Boards of Canada – Tomorrow's Harvest / Releases". Drowned in Sound. Silentway. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Wright, Danny (4 June 2013). "Boards of Canada – Tomorrow's Harvest". This Is Fake DIY. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
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  29. ^ "Boards of Canada – Tomorrow's Harvest". lescharts.com (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
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External links[edit]