One of the advantageous of being in a publicity-evasive electronic act is that you can probably get away with ageing extremely badly without anyone really noticing as there are no promo photos to accompany your releases. Seriously, Daft Punk have managed to navigate their way through fifteen years of cultural pertinence with a variety of upturned dustbins on their heads and Scotland's BOC have managed to last just as long ranked as one of electronic indie's biggest draws whilst hidden behind banks of dimly lit sequencers. I can remember seeing a photo of the pair fairly early on in their career and the only thing I can remember from it is that they both had beards. If this was indeed the case back then I can only assume said beards are now preposterously long and require plaiting and pinning back during their increasingly rare live performances, a bit like the knob-twiddling equivalent of ZZ Top. Anyway, it's a fairly healthy time for anyone who released a half decent album in the 90s to raise their heads above the parapet and the runaway success of 'Random Access Memories' must be encouraging to a band who've timed their releases in similar fashion, only now reaching their fourth full length after their much-feted beginnings in the electronica boom of the late 90s. There isn't much else to link the two bands admittedly, although I'd argue that world wasn't holding its breath for a new Daft Punk album but was very pleased for one to come along in 2013 and the same is probably true for 'Tomorrow's Harvest', a welcome return for a band absent from the airwaves since the muted success of 'The Campfire Headphase' in the mid-noughties. BOC always remind me of music you'd like on your headphones whilst walking round an art gallery, soothing and unintrusive yet sprinkled with clever ideas and evocative soundbites - the kaleidoscopic nostalgia buzz of their debut 'Music has the right to Children' from back in '98 and the let's get stoned in the woods throb of the 'In a Beautiful Place out in the Country' EP from 2000 gave way to a slightly sinister vibe for 2002's 'Geogaddi' which they've picked up again with this new one, stepping away from the 70s documentaries on rock formations and channelling something more atuned to those slightly scary sci-fi flicks from back in the day depicting barren planets and hypnotic soundwaves leading astronauts off the beaten track. I like to think that there's a film out there to accompany this stuff depicting intrepid space travellers exploring undiscovered ecospheres, pacing through crystal blue moon landscapes and taking samples of the mildly threatening wildlife. As with their earlier releases there's little point trying to pick favourites from the tracks present which blend seamlessly into one continuous melt of sound and colour and it's a record you'll need to give a few spins before the combined effects really start to sink in - fortunately the band's pedigree means that plenty of people will be willing to give them the time and I felt in fairly safe hands shelling out for a copy despite not being able to give the album a sample listen on Spotify for some reason. My money's worth was there waiting for me when I gave 'Tomorrow's Harvest' my full attention and it will surely provide a worthy soundtrack to many fun afternoons defrosting the fridge or recovering from a stinking hangover.
If you do pick up a copy of 'Tomorrow's Harvest', one thing you won't be doing is dancing your ass off to it with a Cheshire Cat grin reserved for those who've just chanced upon a set of stainless steel electronic anthems. For such thrills I would recommend a sneak peak at Tycho's stonking debut 'Dive' which dropped back in 2011 to moderate fanfare - the crystalline analogue throb and sunrise at the plankton colony reverb are present and correct, harking back to BOC's more accessible moments but Tycho's gameplan is focussed on providing satisfaction in five minute swathes rather than over the course of an entire LP. 'Dive' comprises ten such bursts all of which get to the point quickly and effectively without slipping into gimmickry, easing in melodic hooks that spiral through the songs like ink mixing with water to forge a set of memorable moments of serene electronica. In a way this reminds me of Apparat's 'The Devil's Walk' which also dropped to subdued acclaim back in '11 to hang in peripheral vision until someone decided to ruin it by sticking it on a car advert or something - Tycho may yet succumb to such a fate but for the moment he's safe from overkill so you should be able to enjoy 'Dive' on your own terms. Those BOC nature documentary synths resonate across most of the tracks but he eases the basslines into more prominent territory and rachets up the drum cracks to give a more recognisable frame to the material - there's even a spot of acoustic guitar in there to hang your coat on. The warm spearmint throb runs through every track but instead of numbing your head it gets into your bones and makes you want to shake a leg - this is one for those morning runs by the canal as opposed to the spiritually vulnerable lie-ins shaking off the Stella demons. You'll be picking playlist tracks off 'Dive' for some time to come and the diverse shades provided by the five remixes tagged on to last year's Deluxe version are worth the extra bucks to round out what is a thoroughly enjoyable journey through delectable fishtank techno. On this evidence Tycho is one sporting montage away from notching a breakthrough success that'll make his music unavoidable but it's equally plausible that he'll unleash a similarly gorgeous follow-up that'll have critics foaming at the mouth and see him spoken of with the same reverence as the reigning royals of the electronica world. Keep your eyes peeled either way, there's certainly more to this story - in the meantime bag 'Dive' and treat yourself to some fresh air and headphones for a glimpse of celestial glory.