Boards of Canada's new album a force in electronic dance music

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Boards of Canada has never been a band short on ideas, and Tomorrow’s Harvest only further cements its canonization in electronic music. Considering that its 1998 record, Music Has the Right To Children helped define the Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) genre, it stands to reason that every Boards of Canada release will have at least something to offer.

Given the hype surrounding Tomorrow’s Harvest, the Scottish duo has amassed a cult following and for good reason. At the forefront of the IDM movement, Boards of Canada was undoubtedly a driving force in today’s electronic dance music scene, helping to popularize EDM as we know it.

Yet where previous records like The Campfire Headphase and Geogaddi found Boards of Canada moving toward a heavier, hip-hop sound, Tomorrow’s Harvest scales back the group’s percussive elements, and instead lets atmospheric and swirling tones speak for themselves.

Tracks like “Uritual” and “Collapse” exhibit a newfound attention to repeating ambience while still maintaining enough of the band’s penchant for melody to elevate the tracks above new age styleyoga music. Likewise, late-album highlight “Nothing Is Real” bridges the gap even further by splicing drum sounds, though never letting them take the lead.

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The record does have its share of that signature Boards of Canada drum sound, though. Taking a cue from Music Has the Right To Children, “Jacquard Causeway” features loping, dizzy drum samples interspersed with the kind of oscillating melodies that most electronic musicians can only dream of creating.

On construction alone, the six and a half-minute “Jacquard Causeway” stands among the best of Tomorrow’s Harvest, as each additional tone loops on top of the next, as if to evoke the best kind of highway driving — mindless, in the moment and musical.

Boards of Canada’s approach is nothing if not about a well-constructed road to a specific sound or theme, but “Jacquard Causeway” proves that it remains just as committed to the scenery.

Perhaps the most intriguing moment of the record, however, belongs to the oddly titled “Semena Mertvykh,” the album’s closer that stretches ambient bits from the album like “Uritual” and “Sundown” into a full-fledged track. It’s a telling moment, one that poses a change in sound more drastic than even the least drum-laden tracks on Tomorrow’s Harvest.

Whether Boards of Canada will eschew its IDM textures for more droning endeavors remains to be seen. Either way, the group’s fourth full-length album emerges as yet another in its long string of triumphs.


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