Escapism comes in many forms, but escapism through surrealism is something of a rare occurrence. Enter "Tomorrow's Harvest", the bombastic release by the ever-elusive Boards of Canada. This is a record designed and engineered to make one think, feel and breathe fresh perspectives. It is, quite literally, intended to get those brain juices flowing.
As such, this record has proven instrumental (pardon the pun) in serving as background atmosphere during the writing of short fiction, content for this website and even a manuscript for my debut novel (a project which matures beautifully with each passing day). The way each track is arranged and orchestrated acts as a temporary expansion of one's mentality; it encourages increasing the speed at which our gears turn and lightbulbs flicker, so to speak.
Opener "Gemini" acts as one of the most solid foundations to build this record on, with each track serving as a story of the artful tower that is "Tomorrow's Harvest". No matter the track length, there is a great deal of strength and ingenuity present. "Gemini" throbs along menacingly like the precursor to a tragic dominance of a naïve yet innocent world, swirling and blaring synthesized fortitude before halting, transitioning into the next track.
With each subsequent release, Boards of Canada continues to prove their evolution not just as a band, but as human beings who reflect their outlooks of the world in the way they twiddle knobs, flick switches and listen unreservedly. "Tomorrow's Harvest" is easily their most cohesive, bombastic yet surrealist release yet, bar none. Obvious standouts include "Reach For The Dead", which behaves like a mirage blossoming into a great living, breathing populous strewn with technological wonderment. Synths flickering like passing power lines seen through a train window form the structure, complimented with choir-like distortions reminiscent of flowing streams. Enter the crashing, cascading beats that illuminate the "living" feeling of the track, compelling one to picture unique personalities passing each other in a city of shimmering glass and electronic prowess. This is one of the most fantastic recordings on the album and, though some may believe it to be simple, others may fall in love with it as so many already have done.
"White Cyclosa" continues the trend of painting a picture of realism/surrealism. It ping-pongs along over the eerie distant sound of an airborne helicopter before expanding into a booming, distortion-addled journey - almost behaving as the seedy underbelly of what was evoked by "Reach For The Dead". There's an air of caution and alertness, and it's a real treat.
Then, there's "New Seeds", a thumping, flickering composition accented by precise timing, string treatments and swaggering, jiggly synths. "Nothing Is Real" is an equally lively track, elevated by deep bass and ambient soundscapes evoking a "night on the town" attitude. Shimmering synths fade in and out in the background with alien vocal snippets peppering the atmosphere. "Palace Posy" feels strangely out of place or disruptive on the record, but don't let that turn you away; it is easily one of the best tracks on the release despite that fact, and serves well as an alien soundscape - most likely intentionally. Heavy, plopping beats mingle harmoniously with ocean-deep bass, chaotic chanting and shimmering strings - all sounding quite unlike the rest of the record in a most beautiful way.
A final standout is "Come To Dust", which is undeniably the greatest track Boards of Canada has ever released for public consumption. After bursting out of its shell, it roars along majestically with meticulous drum and cymbal arrangements. Orgasmic strings and flickering synth orchestrations strobe along overhead. It is truly the best track on the record; powerful, evocative and quite necessary. A fantastic addition to the tail-end of "Tomorrow's Harvest".
Of course, listeners will experience different emotions and feelings when listening to the record. Perhaps nobody will liken their perceptions to mine when listening to this record. Still, that's a good thing. After all, if we all experienced everything the same way, I very much doubt that this gorgeous record would have been made. There are few electronica artists which pique my interest, but Boards of Canada have established themselves as true geniuses of the genre with "Tomorrow's Harvest". To some it could be perceived as mindless noise, but perhaps that might be nothing more than an instant knee-jerk reaction. If you truly listen to this record, that perception could evolve into an appreciation for the brilliance present in these seventeen tracks.