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its a cop out
Indie Fundamentalist. All bands must play guitars all the time. You know how it is...
For ages, whenever someone wanted to knock the quality of reviews on here, pointing to that one was the easy option – because Graham Reed basically said "I'm not sure what Radiohead are trying to do here but I don't like it and it's unlistenable crap", when now it's widely hailed as a Stone Cold Classic.
Thing is, though, DiS may have done itself a disservice by deleting it, because one of the obvious comebacks to "Your review is shit, how can you not like this record?" is: "It's one person's opinion." And this was a sterling example which is now no longer there. I've never really trusted magazines or websites that have a Party Line.
Sadly I can't find it on webarchive.com
I still dispute it's that good. It's listenable but it's more of a so-so electronica record when as a guitar band Radiohead were always amazing.
I was always glad they didn't do an OK Computer 2, though.
National Anthem and Idioteque work so much better for me.
What always annoyed me about criticism of this record was people lazily terming it 'electronica', as if it were just put together in five minutes on Ableton or something - when as anyone can see by consulting live footage of the band playing the songs, the vast majority of the material considered 'electronica' is simply creative use of pedals and other equipment that's been readily available for years if not decades - mostly in conjunction with the very guitars critics say don't exist.
If the latter then you can't compare. Thom Yorke wrote vast sections of the record and then they relearned them all to play it live.
Half the tracks don't sound the same live for this very reason. The original album was built up of lots of samples and loops and things and tracks were clearly intended to sound like they had just rolled off the production line after Aphex Twin over at Warp.
Yes, it's full of soundscape work but I'm pretty sure Kid A, In Limbo and Treefingers never formed part of the live set and the difference in a track like Idioteque is quite impressive.
What are you talking about, Willis? I've never heard any live Radiohead that sounds significantly different to the recorded version (the difference between live and recorded versions of The Gloaming is the most radical I've heard).
Also, I can't see how it would be hard to replicate In Limbo or Treefingers - given that both tracks are just guitars throughout.
BTW: Here is In Limbo sounding exactly the same: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99NNFlGUO0U
It sounds identical. There's not a single note or sound different. Or not.
But yeah, you're right most of the stuff on the album is achievable via guitars and electronics in one form or another. But then the electronics in the pedals are presumably the same as in keyboards so what's your point?
As I said, the sound of the album is clearly meant to mimic Warp's back catalogue and as such it sounds second rate, which is really my point. And whether or not you want to try to draw some kind of weird line in the sand where it all has to be GUITAR ROCK because it's not being played live through a laptop the fact remains that those descriptions used by critics are entirely valid because they make it plain to those reading the review what sort of sound they're going to hear.
Kid A does not sound like the previous three Radiohead albums. It's trying something different, something incredibly produced with the aid of many electronic devices and it fails to deliver on that level in the way Radiohead delivered on the guitar rock they made previously.
This doesn't really have anything to do with what I was talking about. Also, I'd be interested to hear these Warp artists that are coming out with anything that sounds like How To Disappear Completely, The National Anthem, Optimistic or Morning Bell.
Perhaps you could provide examples?
Most of those tracks were laid down as tracks and then processed and fiddled with.
You can hear Phil's read drums over the electronic drum track in Idioteque if you take two minutes to compare the live version to the album version; compare the National Anthem and you get a heavier rock take on an original track that's full of processing and layers.
My point is you're wrong to point to a live performance of an album the whole band admitted was mostly created from processing stuff in the studio (and often it seems from Thom doing it while the other guys had coffee or something) and say, "Hey look, they didn't even use sequencers. What a swizz!"
I'm not talking about electronic influence at all. I'm talking about the actual equipment used to play the songs. My point was that anytime you find someone moaning about how 'electronic' (and therefore not 'indie') a bit in some R'head song is, it invariably turns out to be a standard (and sometimes vintage) piece of equipment that many other artists have been taking advantage of for some time, or more likely, just a guitar.
And the only differences I've ever found between recorded and live versions of those songs are minor ones bought about by logistic issues (i.e. those revolving around replicating studio sound with a reduced live setup). There certainly aren't any major rejigging of songs - because featuring mainly guitars, keys and assorted pedals, there don't need to be.
And ironically the biggest difference I've found between live and studio National Anthems is that the live versions often don't include the brass band that features on the record. Hardly an electronic element.
You seem to be taking issue with reviewers being upset they weren't listening to The Bends (or maybe amazed and surprised they loved not listening to The Bends). I'm simply referring styles of sounds I heard but the instruments used aren't really important.
Surely descriptions of music should be in reference to how they sound not how they're made?
I don't know what you're arguing about, but my point was simple: In much of the negative criticism of Kid A, the critic appears to be under the impression that vast stretches of the album pass without any guitars or 'traditional' instruments at all.
Consulting live versions of those tracks shows this not to be the case - parts that are dismissed as being mere samples or unreplicable backing tracks, are shown to be merely creative usage of standard musical equipment.
Whether Kid A sounds like Aphex Twin or not is neither here nor there.
You may be right. There were a lot of people reviewing it who couldn't conceive of anything outside the realms of boring guitar music. They were annoying.
possibly earlier, on the HTTT tours? i can't remember. they said at the time that it took them that long to work out how to play it live.
they used to play Hunting Bears live a fair bit as well.
Hunting Bears is just guitars anyway. If it's not the missing intro to I Might Be Wrong then it should be - if you crossfade the end of Hunting Bears over the start of I Might Be Wrong it sounds really nice.
I'm pretty sure someone found the old review and posted it there.
I missed it, evidently. Alcock has provided the review at the bottom of the page.
What do you get the man who has everything?
Well, that certainly sounds like a Radiohead song title, almost to the point of parody. However, it probably a question that Radiohead were asking themselves when the "OK Computer" tour came to a close. When you’ve reinvented the wheel, where do you go next? The same question oasis asked themselves in 1996 after conquering the world in much the same way that Radiohead found themselves hailed as the new saviours of music in the aftermath of the exemplary OK Computer. Oasis went off and created "Be Here Now", a hugely disappointing album that in retrospect seems composed of good B-sides. It seems the loftier the heroes the bigger the fall. While the critical reaction for "Be Here Now" was one of high praise (soon revoked), the praise for "Kid A" so far is one of total and utter confusion. The circumstances have been carefully manipulated to ensure maximum secrecy here: no videos, no singles, no advance copies of the album (except on digital MP3 players sent out to select persons). The paranoia increases. That didn’t stop Mp3s’ of virtually the whole album appearing online weeks before its release, thanks to the sensibility of premiering new songs live months before the official release.
But nonetheless expectations were high, unrealistically so. No matter how good this album was going to be, it was always going to be a let down. Very few people were prepared for just how much of a let down it is though. Radiohead openly admit that they have totally changed their modus operandi in producing this album, and taken a lot of electronica influences such as Aphex twin and Autechre, and Jazz influences such as Miles Davis’ improvisational “Bitches Brew”. The resulting mix is a lot more akin to something that would be issued on Warp or Rephlex, rather than a big chart friendly multinational like EMI. Its rumoured that upon hearing this album, upon which the majority of EMI’s big hopes were pinned, Christmas bonuses were cancelled. Well, Its not easy to guess why.
From the opening “Everything in it’s right place” to the closing hidden track, the overall tone of “kid A” is sombre, muted, discreet. Perhaps the best comparison musically would be the U2 album “Passengers” album recorded with Brian Eno, an overall impressionistic, indulgent ambient album, with further hints of Brian Enos “Discreet Music”. The ghost of U2 and Brian Eno haunt this CD, and Rather like U2 taking Brian Eno on board for their “Unforgettable Fire” album (3rd album big breakthrough, fourth album impressionistic). Its as much a radical reinvention as “Achtung baby” was at the time, only rather than re-inventing everything for the better, its been reinvented for the worst.
For a start, forget everything you know and expect about Radiohead. The rules no longer apply. You are through the looking glass. The best way to think of this is as a collection of abstractions, rather than songs. Traditional songwriting no longer applies. The main aim here, it seems is Radiohead are attempting to make things fresh, exciting, unusual, to reinvent themselves. To challenge themselves and their own preconceptions of making music, and in doing so to challenge their audiences expectations, and in doing so, Radiohead seem to want to reinvent themselves as electronic pioneers. Radiohead want to create new sounds, sounds never heard before. Sounds that may be fresh, new, bold and exciting. In doing so, they have created something unlike any normal record. Vocals flit in and out, sampled, cut up, turned into incoherent babble, trumpet solos appear from nowhere, traditional song structures abandoned. Drum Loops come out of nowhere, ethereal and synthesised bass and keyboard parts emerge and then disappear, moving in and out of focus, sometimes near, sometimes far.
This sounds may appear new to Radiohead, but anyone seriously interested in electronica will discern a different tale whatsoever, with hints of Aphex Twin, Autechre, Muziq, Pete Namlook, two lone Swordsmen and so forth being key reference points. It probably most closely resembles “Rabbit in the Headlights”, Thom Yorkes collaboration with James Lavelle, crossed with the synth bass sounds of Ok Computers “Climbing up the walls”, and echoes the “nothing” soundtrack Orbital composed also. In times, the mood it evokes – cold, distanced, muted, detached, - is more alike “Fitter Happier” than any other Radiohead track. These sounds may seem new, fresh, exciting to the band, but ultimately they are not. They are nothing that hasn’t been done before, by people with considerably more innovation rather than merely aping and emulating their peers. In letting the sounds take precedence over songwriting, and allowing songs to evolve rather than be structured logically and comprehensibly, Radiohead have created an album which sounds like a low key release on Warp, which by any other band under any other name would probably sell about 10,000 copies worldwide at most. It may seem fresh, exciting, bold, and deliberately uncommercial. It is also cold, hostile, unwelcoming, and deliberately alienating, as if it is an example of how to make their career disappear completely. It’s like listening to Lou Reeds “Metal Machine Music”, such is the effect on the listener, feeling distanced and unwanted intrusive and alienated from the whole emotional context of the music.
Sure, there are moments of inspiration and brilliance: occasionally melodies and subtleties shine through. In time it may be remembered as a masterpiece, in time it may be remembered as the biggest folly they ever made. It’s a case of lets throwaway everything we've ever achieved, lets be something we're not, lets pretend we're radical and different and exciting and new, because we've lost the plot. If OK computer was their wall or dark side, then this is the second CD of Ummagummna, pretentious, irrelevant, indulgent.. Artistic control = genius or chaos, depending on whether the artist can exercise self-restraint, and none is in evidence here. Ultimately, its reactionary to the point of self-annihilation.
This will without doubt be remembered as their worst album, their Spaghetti Incident, their very own "My Beauty". One thing it is certainly seems is art for arts sake, devoid of purpose, experimentation for experimentation’s sake, art without purpose, pretentious and alienating. It’s a trip alright, but an ugly one, not one you want to make often. Be warned.
"This will without doubt be remembered as their worst album"
It's not even a badly-written review. I mean sure a lot of people disagreed with it but he's given a reasoned argument as to why he doesn't like it. Anyone who calls it a "shit review" is talking utter bollocks.
Sometimes on here DiS reviewers don't like albums I like. I might state my disagreement at the bottom but I don't bitch and whine and throw my toys out the pram like most of the comments at the bottom.
DiS deleting it smacks of historical revisionism and snobbery.
DiS'd praise the avant-garde experimentalism and give him a 9/10.
you've got to give him that
I'd like to see them do one of those DiSband interviews with him. Those were well wank.
a lot of garbled cliched nonsense. Its very well written indeed. Wrong in my opinion, but can't see at all why it was taken down..
I'm not a normal human being.
For shame indeed.
Feel a bit sorry for the author who it looks like put quite a lot of effort into writing it.
that better reflects its canonical status? This is silly and does unspeakable damage to the credibility of any reviews on the site.
Changing their 'official' opinion just because in retrospect they were wrong is just weak-minded. WEAK-MINDED I TELL YOU!
I really like Kid A though. I think it is good.
It's up now.
I don't begrudge them wanting to replace the review with something that more accurately reflects (their) hindsight opinion, but it's massively dishonest to just delete the old review entirely.
fair play if they wanted to do a look back or a reappraisal, but to try and present it as if that's what they always said or something is abit numpty-ish.
Obviously it ultimately doesn't matter, but it just smacks of a sort of desperation to be cool and to have always been right.
Like my mum never says - you can never be too cool for your past.
when emo was on the cusp of breaking big; their initial reviews of Finch's 'What It Is To Burn' and Thursday's 'Full Collapse' were massively scathing, presumably because most of their readers were still bobbing up and down to Linkin Park. But come the end-of-year round up of reviews (and not new reviews by a different writer), the marks had been upped to reflect what their readership was then listening to.
So basically Kerrang! circa 2001 >= DiS