The Return of Boards of Canada
I'm excited about the new Boards of Canada album, out in New Zealand at the end of this week. I've heard it. A special album-stream, I'm not allowed to share it, the album's tracklisting has been replaced with made-up/false titles instead. (I don't quite understand that - since there are versions of the track listing available online elsewhere). In fact, usually, when given the chance to advance-stream something I'll wait for the album instead. I don't get caught up in the race to hear something first - most of the time.
But if it's a big release - something to get excited about, something I've got history with, something I'd like to comment on - then I'll jump on board the stream-engine.
It's not that I'm old-fashioned and prefer the CD to arrive in the letterbox...okay, okay, it's not just that I'm old-fashioned and prefer the CD to arrive in the letterbox...it's that I don't work as a music reviewer and blogger fulltime. And I have other obligations that require me to step away from the computer. I can't just sit at a computer with headphones on all day now. Who would want to do that anyway?
I have a "real job" too. So a CD means the music goes in my car, is transferred to my computer so that I can add it to my phone or iPod; the music also goes in the house stereo - it means there are more chances. A stream/link means I'm at the computer, late at night, with headphones, and often it feels less like an album-experience, more like an assignment, more as though an arcade-game soundtrack - sounding tinny - is poking its nose in occasionally while I try to complete the assignment. And sometimes that's okay, because sometimes that's all you have. I'm just saying that often I'll wait until I can have something closer to the real album and (therefore) the real album experience...
But, when the email arrives with a link to stream an album and it tells me it's the new one by Boards of Canada, the first by the duo in over half a decade, well then I'm going to brave the computer-sound, the headphones, the late-night extra-work after work because I'm going to want to hear it.
When Boards released Geogaddi in 2002 I was still fairly new to newspaper reviewing; I'd been contributing to the Dom Post - well, back then, The Evening Post - for less than a year. Geogaddi was one of the first Five-Star rave reviews I wrote. Every time I listen to Geogaddi (still a favourite) I can remember where I was when I was listening to it those first few times, preparing my 130-word review for the paper. It was an album that opened up a whole new world for me. Often, incongruously, Geogaddi was my travelling soundtrack to and from weekend gigs up the coast as a member of an Irish pub band. I can remember that album vividly.
It had me hooked - it still does. Every time I play it. Perhaps the correct answer is to gush about the band's debut, Music Has the Right to Children - oh and I love that, I love that album and the early EPs too - but Geogaddi is the one for me. That's the album that had the impact; the one that really pulled me in. I heard so much in it - I still hear so much in it.
So last night listening to Tomorrow's Harvest I had a similar experience; I knew I was listening to something special. I played it twice. Back to back. It reminds me - at this early stage - of Geogaddi more than Music Has the Right or The Campfire Headphase though, given it's Boards of Canada, given the sound remains faithful to their vision, to the parameters, the new record does touch on and trace around some of the sounds explored on Music and Campfire.
It's big news though. The fourth full-length record from Boards of Canada. The duo's first in a long time. Earlier this year the album was teased as part of an April Fool's Day prank. And there were a few stories circulating after Record Store Day that mentioned a very small number of special white label releases dropped randomly in stores. So though this is no Daft Punk record in terms of the marketing campaign (or almost-lack of one) there is still - relative to this band's fan base - some surrounding hype.
I can't say too much. I'm not really allowed to. And I want to spend more time with the album and then a full review will appear online. For sure. But I do want to tell you that I think - straight away - that the new Boards of Canada album is something to be excited about. It's good. I can say that much. That much I'm able to tell. In fact it's very good. I'm looking forward to having this record get right under my skin. I know that's going to happen. I could feel that instantly.
Are you a Boards of Canada fan? Will you be rushing out end of the week to buy this? Or at least downloading it/streaming it/hearing it as soon as you can? Have you heard it already? If so, what do you think? I've previewed the album at Off the Tracks including a link to one song from the album.
Postscript: Also at Off the Tracks is a Q&A with Lucien Johnson, performer and curator at this year's Wellington Jazz Festival. I thought to mention it here - the festival starting tomorrow night. It might be something you'd like to read.
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts.