Boards of Canada: The New Album Dilemma

So, if you've been following me on Twitter for the past week or so, I probably have been insufferable, spouting incredulous messages about a new Boards of Canada album, some random numbers, and generally being excited like a little schoolboy, probably very similar to the way I was when I first found out that the computer game Sonic and Knuckles was coming out.

Yesterday the group announced what all fans have been waiting (in some instances, not so patiently) for: a new album. It's called Tomorrow's Harvest, will be release on the 10th of June and I have already made my pre-order.

I never thought I'd ever see this day.
I first discovered Boards of Canada approximately a week after the release of the Trans Canada Highway EP, back in 2006. I'd just handed in my notice at The Link, and was about to embark on a 10 week placement at Jacobs engineering as a recently passed 3rd-year student at Chemical Engineering. I was still living with my parents, I was still a Scout leader, and hadn't even considered moving to Aberdeen or starting to blog. That would come in late 2006.

My life has moved on a lot since 2006, as has a lot of things. But as the years passed the likelihood of a new Boards of Canada album became less and less, and as time went on I decided that despite my wishes, they probably wouldn't release a new album any time soon.

And then, last Saturday, a 12'' LP was found, hidden unannounced amongst the Record Store Day finds in New York City, that hinted either at an elaborate hoax or something new - it broadcast a cryptic code like a Numbers Station. Then Warp Records confirmed it was legit. Then a second code appeared, then Radio 1 broadcast a third, NPR broadcast a fourth, and then before I knew it I was checking various fan forums hourly as the clues unraveled, before the fan forum I was viewing became part of the trail.

Then yesterday, the album was revealed. I was commuting during the reveal and found out by way of a random re-tweet by a Boards of Canada related Twitter account when I got home - I could scarcely believe that they'd finally done it.

Before reading further, if you haven't, read this post on Tones of Town about Boards of Canada as I explain what the mean to me and why I love them so. Then come back.

Are you back? Good. I now have a dilemma.

See, Boards of Canada are my current favourite artist. I grew to appreciate each release I acquired over a long period of time, only recently listening to their lost-complication BoC Maxima just this past week. I have both Old Tunes tapes downloaded and own each of their official releases (only owning one physically, Music Has the Right to Children, but I actually don't know where it is right now). I have made my peace with their back catalogue - I discovered it all out of sync, out of order, and now have pretty much fully formed opinions of how each release sits in my mind, and how they relate to each other.

Imagine a story that was finished - one that had an ending of sorts, and then being told there was a future book that expanded on the characters. If you'd made peace with their fate, knowing that there was a canonical version of the events after your ending it can shake it up a lot. An actual example of this is the sixth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, And Another Thing, heroically written by Eion Colfer after Douglas Adam's untimely death. It didn't change the books I had read previously, but it certainly did change how I felt about the ending of Mostly Harmless.

Of course, music is very different to that of a book - there is no real narrative, besides that of the album it's self. But what of my narrative? I have had eight years to dissect all their work and how it fits in my head, and now there's going to be more. And the new work will never change how I feel about the albums right now, but might it change how I feel in the future? It could. My tastes are fluid (though, admittedly, much more stationary than before) and like my infatuation with The Smiths 5 years ago, Boards of Canada could fall out of favour (however unlikely).

Don't get me wrong, however - I am not not looking forward to new material - I actually have not been this excited for a new album by anyone in my life, I think (though my younger self was extremely excited about Oasis' Be Here Now) but I am suddenly wary. I never expected new material from the group and now there will be it changes things ever so slightly. Despite writing this, I don't think I can quite explain it fully - apprehension isn't the correct term, but it is a type of wariness. 

I look forward to hearing the new album at any rate. How it changes my relationship with their early work I won't know until I have heard it.