The Boards of Canada back catalogue — both official releases and fanatically sought-after rarities and bootlets — has reached that exalted place beyond criticism. That’s why the promise of a new album, from the first tiny hints on Record Store Day and the Machiavellian treasure hunt that followed, was such a heart-in-the-mouth journey for fans. There was excitement abounding, but also that one niggling thought: what if it wasn’t good?
Happily, we can dispell those concerns: Tomorrow’s Harvest is fucking brilliant. First single, Reach for the Dead, recalls the thick, textured sounds of Geogaddi tracks such as Julie and Candy and You Could Feel the Sky, but transmutes them into something much more concentrated and menacing. This is BoC with purpose. The duo’s meandering melodies — sonic rivulets wending and winding their way into deep tributaries — have always been one of their more charming aspects. There’s always been a certain kind of mysterious playfulness to BoC that sets them apart from their peers, and thankfully that quality is still present here.
When we look back in a couple of years, perhaps when BoC have again retreated to their hidden burrows of genius, Tomorrow’s Harvest won’t just be seen as an excellent album in its own right. It’ll also be remembered as the underdog to the over-hyped, over-promoted and over-produced Random Access Memories — a very good piece of work that sadly found itself unable to live up to the sheer weight of expectation. The overlap of the two albums’ launch campaigns and their vast differences in intention and reception showed us something important— that marketing hype can get in the way of good music. Also, that people still love a good-old fashioned treasure hunt.