How come Mark Ibold doesn't get a say? He must be pretty bummed...
Seriously though, this is great news.
I think it would definitely have benefited from a keener editing eye.
"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."
I wish this hadn't clashed with Mudhoney. I'm not going to be at the White Heat show on the 12th, either. Damn.
I'm now really glad that I decided not to get a ticket – but this sucks for everyone who did.
The HEALTH show at White Heat was pretty jawdroppingly great.
Really like these photos, btw.
I'll miss you. But you'll live on in all of our hearts, whenever some rehashed press release is half-heartedly posted on a Friday afternoon or someone mentions that somebody vaguely famous might have been spotted somewhere near a gig.
*pours out Hennessey*
Who wants to be my date?
Ticketmaster is slightly cheaper than Seetickets, but - £2.50 to email me tickets I print out myself? The same price as getting them posted? Fuck's sake.
what he said. actualol.
is a disgusting idea. Next you'll be telling me someone used a Clash song on a Levi's advert.
in ascribing some kind of literary motive to it. Almost every blog written in phonetics appears that way because it's the work of someone who can't spell.
lol. Not at the typo; at the sentiment. The typo just makes it funnier.
That thread nearly killed me.
is either the worst headline ever or the best, I can't decide which.
I've been looking at that second Johnny Foreigner pic for a good two minutes and I still can't work out what the hell's going on.
both in the hiphop "community" and outside it.
Ask him if he's got any new business ventures up his sleeve. Like another one of his pornos.
Ask him if he ever worries that the transition into self-parody is complete and irreversible. If you think you can get away with it. No, scratch that one. This is supposed to be positive, right? OK, you can also scratch the one where you ask why he can't seem to keep his damn nose out of trouble. Isn't he currently banned from the UK?
and the horror flick collage with Blood Stereo et al was excellent too. I want there to be more nights like this.
Also, nice review. I like people who are at home with long words.
February 6th at the Luminaire.
Three out of the four dates are north of the border, hence the headline. Innit.
Oh man. What zone on the tube is Newcastle in?
I didn't go to that after getting so badly burned at the Shepherd's Bush Empire gig. If only there was some kind of formula for working out when she was going to be good.
she's just rubbish live.
I get narked after five minutes. You're obviously a far more patient person than I am.
if only it didn't clash exactly with the stuff on the other stage. oh well.
Mike Dover's from drownedinkent.com
I hohpe to see Mike Dover DJing dressed as an elf or something equally festive. And Rolo Tomassi doing a Christmas medley.
Bad choice, motherfucker.
A bloke I work with was telling me earlier he saw MBV upstairs at the Wheatsheaf in Oxford, which is pretty bloody tiny.
start a band playing Sebadoh songs in the style of Sepultura. Or vice versa, which is probably easier.
Also, 18: lol.
I'm sure Jamie Stewart's said in the past he doesn't want to come to the UK (or maybe Europe overall) but he could be softening his outlook