Thom Yorke described the distribution of Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes via a paid-for BitTorrent (here you will find also the bonus track premiered with its Christmas release on Bandcamp) as an experiment to bypass the “self-elected gatekeepers” of the music industry. Someone will say that aligning one’s self with the machinery of the pirates, rather than with the labels and the record stores, might be a moral grey area. Anyway, let’s not linger too long on delivery and state that if a solo album can be seen to be the purest example of a musician’s internal world, away from the push and pull of collaboration, Yorke’s second is telling. Frequent visitors to Radiohead’s blog Dead Air Space will be familiar with Yorke’s penchant for posting playlists, which largely focus on his love for solo electronic dudes such as Untold, Caribou, Nathan Fake, Burial and Machinedrum. And that’s how Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes sounds: solo, small, muted, hemmed in. It’s and electronic game, but focused on voice. We know, it might sound weird to say, but this album again is the proof of a challenge, a challenge that started in the moment (someday late in the summer after OK Computer was released) Thom Yorke stopped trying to be a rock singer, and started trying to be a soul singer. Whether he succeeds totally on that score is questionable, but in the process his voice has become a unique thing: expressive but slightly alien, with a weird curl that makes each word sound slightly suspicious of itself as it drops out his mouth. In places, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes can feel disengaged, opiated, a bit complacent, even. But it has a voice that cuts you from the inside. So the result is a curious mix: a subtle and often beautiful record about not very much at all.
It’s not everyday that you hear of a seminal drummer writing his own solo material, but Philip Selway has managed do that, plus dabble in charity affairs and still work inventively for Radiohead. His alternate projects (both musical and philanthropic) may have been what kept him sane since Radiohead‘s rapid rise to stardom with their 1997 release OK Computer. Over the years he’s performed with fellow Oxford natives, Dive Dive, as well as toured as a part of the 7 Worlds Collide project – the extensive collaboration led by Crowded House resident Neil Finn that aimed to record an album for charity in three weeks. Through just these facts alone it should be safe to say that Selway isn’t short of motivation or inspiration for upcoming projects. His first album saw him collaborating with artists from Wilco, all coming to a head and producing an array of low-key acoustic tracks that warmed rather than scolded you. He bares many similarities to co-worker Thom Yorke, with the difference being that Selway appears to see light in an otherwise darkened room. His vocal delivery is soft and melodic, and his arrangements are genuine, but there’s a subtle weirdness thrown in there, similar to the drummer-turned-songwriter Goyte. Both share their most intimate connection with the head and heart, but turn things slightly askew when compared to overly played pop-chart tracks. Weatherhouse, his follow-up, acts as quite the step up for Selway. Sonically, softer percussions and acoustic melodies are swapped for heavier, sweeping drums with piano or guitar driven ballads. There’s even a strings section thrown in to the mix. Weatherhouse houses its own experiences but could just be listened to as a sub-experience of Radiohead. It shares many of experimental shifts using beat and synths to explore mood, only without the hooks and utterly unique melodies that nobody but Radiohead can produce.
Radiohead go mobile. No annoucement, no press-release, no promotion, no rumors or chatting: in typical Radiohead fashion, the band unexpectedly released an app for Android and iOS devices, called PolyFauna. As Thom Yorke himself states, the app was born “out of early computer life-experiments and the imagined creatures of our subconscious. The look of the app should be familiar to fans of Stanley Donwood, the artist behind Radiohead‘s album covers. And in the background you can hear ever-changing loops from Bloom, one of the singles taken from 2011 album The King of Limbs.
The app itself is basically what you make of it. You float endlessly around an evolving landscape. Tilting your phone will show you more of the strange land, and swiping your finger across the screen will create a drawing that you can then pass through or leave behind. You can go on like this forever, or you can follow a little red dot that appears from time to time. Get close enough and you’ll be drawn into a new world, with a new look and sound. Then do the same thing again and again. It is a conceptual exasperation of looping applied to computer graphics, it’s about generating brand new form of life with your fingers, it’s your own little universe built around fractured clips from one song. It might not be a new album, but PolyFauna is equal parts apocalyptic, futuristic, mesmerizing, paranoid and layered.
In other words, it’s the next best thing.
ARTIST: Atoms For Peace
TITLE: Before Your Very Eyes
directed by Andrew Thomas Huang
Did you like Atoms For Peace‘s Amok? Did you dance to Thom Yorke‘s Dazed Mix? Did you miss his brief DJ tour with Nigel Godrich in support of the brand new full-length debut? If the answer all of this questions is YES (or whatever, well, anyway), don’t worry. Here we are with a ready-made nearly two-hour set, including previously unreleased material from Radiohead and Yorke himself, as well as such s/t-approved artists as Aphex Twin, Luke Abbott, Shed, Oneohtrix Point Never, Diplo and Steve Reich. Always on the run.
ARTIST: Atoms For Peace
directed by Garth Jennings
Atoms for Peace, you should know, is Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Mauro Refosco, Joey Waronker, and Flea. They came together by playing in support of Radiohead‘s frontman’s solo album The Eraser (and maybe that’s the reason why here its almost entirely electronic palette is still a touchstone, even if the organic instrumentation and sometimes fussy arrangements are a technical leap forward). The got a big buzz from those shows and discovered loads of energy from transforming the music from electronic to live, so they carried on for a few days in the studio and decided to make it a loose, on-going thing. Amok is what has come out, highly anticipated by the two singles Default and Judge, Jury and Executioner and the hidden b-side What the Eyeballs Did. This work leaves the sense of something similar to hours of experimental jamming condensed into blistering five-minute workouts. Amok is like the sunrise after the storm and flood of The Eraser, full of dawn light and colour: deceptively simple songs constructed from intricate clockwork parts.
01. Before Your Vey Eyes… [05:48]
02. Default [05:16]
03. Ingenue [04:31]
04. Dropped [04:57]
05. Unless [04:40]
06. Stuck Together Pieces [05:29]
07. Judge, Jury and Executioner [03:30]
08. Reverse Running [05:06]
09. Amok [05:25]
10. What the Eyeballs Did [04:03]
get it here.
Thom Yorke has confirmed details of Atoms For Peace‘s debut album Amok, which is set for release on February 25th. Atoms For Peace are the Radiohead frontman’s side project with Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, super-producer Nigel Godrich and percussionist Mauro Refosco. We’ve already heard ’round the web the first two singles Default and Judge Jury and Executuioner, plus the stunning b-side What the Eyeballs Did. To celebrate such a colossal issue (and maybe to make the hype around it even bigger), Yorke has set up a mix of some of his favourite tunes, unreleased solo material and remixes.
Suffice to say, it’s essential listening.
Composed as a collage of mystical states, dreams, sleep and lullabies, Until the Quiet Comes has the distinct feel of this nocturnal trip. From the twitching descent into a subconscious state and the out-of-focus time-ether of the journey that follows, the sound is an unhinged, yet elegant evolution of the melodic and rhythmic interplay that is woven into the DNA of Flying Lotus‘ aural personae. Features guests Erykah Badu, Laura Darlington, Niki Randa, Thundercat and Thom Yorke.
01. All In [03:00]
02. Getting There [01:49]
03. Until the Colours Come [01:07]
04. Heave(n) [02:22]
05. Tiny Tortures [03:04]
06. All the Secrets [01:57]
07. Sultan’s Request [01:42]
08. Putty Boy Strut [02:54]
09. See Thru to U [02:54]
10. Until the Quiet Comes [02:11]
11. DMT Song [01:19]
12. The Nightcaller [03:29]
13. Only If You Wanna [01:43]
14. Electric Candyman [03:32]
15. Hunger [03:40]
16. Phantasm [03:51]
17. Me Yesterday // Corded [04:40]
18. Dream to Me [01:39]
get it here.
ARTIST: Modelselektor feat. Thom Yorke
directed by Andrew Jones