Published May 30, 2013On June 11, IDM mainstays Boards of Canada will drop their hotly anticipated new album, Tomorrow's Harvest, through Warp. Exclaim! got the chance to sit in on a listening party for the record, and we took some notes on what to expect from it. Read our track-by-track preview of Tomorrow's Harvest below.
After a brief trumpet blast, throbbing bass synths open the track, scraping from side to side, while from the background, an oscillating synth in higher register swirls around gentle phasers before turning into a trebly hum.
2. "Reach For the Dead"
Then, thumping bass drums announce the new track, but you've heard it before:
3. "White Cyclosa"
Dry, crisp synth pings usher in choir-like synth voices and what sounds like a helicopter chopping air away in the distance. Crackling radio transmissions, attempted but not made, pepper the song. Samples like this will become a theme throughout.
4. "Jacquard Causeway"
"Jacquard Causeway" has a classic Boards of Canada beginning, with heavily filtered synth blips and bloops that sound like the soundtrack to a '70s sci-fi documentary. The drums gradually get heavier, and a metallic snare adds a chilly mechanical air to the proceedings. By this point, heavy percussion is becoming an apparent dimension to the duo's new music. The slamming drums drive the track through to its fade out.
A short interlude, on which another radio-transmitted voice utters "Testing, one, two, three," up to ten, over ominous bed of deep, shimmering sub-bass hum. The count is repeated, and each time, the words are treated to sound increasingly mechanical.
6. "Cold Earth"
"Cold Earth" begins with twinkling atmosphere before a bass-heavy kick drum disturbs the tranquility. It's another pounding track, with shuffling closed hi-hat and a propulsive kick/snare beat. A chopped, short-echoed sample of a voice adds both an element of humanity and more percussion. It's the album's centrepiece, and it cements the dual themes of the album: lost humanity, as evoked by the garbled radio transmissions presumably comprising "Tomorrow's Harvest" (see what I did there?) of the remnants of today's media-saturated existence, and heavy percussion, which provides emphasis to the compositions.
7. "Transmisiones Ferox"
Bassy synth throbs suggesting a heartbeat give life to the intro of this interlude, fleshed out by burbling synth oscillation.
8. "Sick Times"
Warm washes of single notes open "Sick Times." A trebly hip-hop beat enters early before another depth charge of a bass drum, on the first beat of every bar, propels it forward. The faint, windy hiss lends an ominous air.
Softened synth arpeggiations over the hiss left over from "Sick Times" feel anticipatory, and tension builds into the track. It holds your attention, but as it continues to swirl, mesmerically, into denouement, you've forgotten what you were anticipating, anyway.
10. "Palace Posy"
There's a quick silence between "Collapse" and "Palace Posy" before a snare announces this roly-poly bit of off-kilter rhythm and tremolo synth notes. Again, the drums are very hip-hop-inspired, with emphasis on the first and third beat of every bar. The hip-hop element throughout Tomorrow's Harvest is far more pronounced than on their first few albums, but it's still a slight return to Music Has the Right to Children and Geogaddi in terms of the samples used. A vocodered voice that comes late into the track sounds like it's desperately holding on amongst the din of the drums and wall of synths that have slowly built up. Then: another quick fade out.
11. "Split Your Infinities"
The juxtaposition of disco hi-hat over another wash of minor synth chords is fascinating, especially as you wait for more drums to kick in; Tomorrow's Harvest leads one to expect them. Instead, more barely-there, decayed, mechanized voices drift in, like another transmission, lost and barely recovered.
High whines and a mid-range buzzing, as if from a massive beehive, open this interlude, and a small, three-note motif provides melody.
13. "Nothing is Real"
A pitter-pat of drums leads quickly into heavy-hitting boom-bap as a short, washed-out synth phrase cycles over it. Another decayed voice fades in, tucked neatly into a bed of shimmering and buzzing synth chords.
Single chords layer slowly over each other here, and they go Earth-warm to space-cold, seemingly in an instant. The effect is subtle, but palpable. "Sundown" evokes its title perfectly; it's another neat interlude.
15. "New Seeds"
Stuttering synth jabs usher in a deep kick with a long decay. Then, a bouncing rhythm carries the song as more short, melodic layers are added, but it's the original stuttering synth that provides the song's backbone. The song changes shape when warm, bell-like analog chimes come in on accidental notes near the end.
16. "Come to Dust"
"Come to Dust" opens with a screwed, traditional rock drum pattern — think "When the Levee Breaks," but with less echo and more stuttered snare — that leads to a slow, triumphant chord progression that cycles, rather than resolving. A haunting choral voice sound repeats a simple phrase over top.
17. "Semena Myrtvykh"
The opening deep, vibrating synth rumbles are phased to feel like your head is expanding and contracting. A major-to-minor chord progression that fades in provides a narrative to the ominous drone, but it fades slowly to silence, and Tomorrow's Harvest is complete.
For more on what the album will sound like, go here for leaks from the duo's listening party in California.