This is essentially part two of Radiohead’s electronic experimental music done around the turn of the century. Being a very unusual step for a Rock band, but nonetheless a successful one for Radiohead themselves. It is also the last of the electronic albums here before Radiohead go back to Rock music that they traditionally pioneered. Let’s take a listen to this album and see how it sounds today and also see if the experimentation was, indeed, worth it.
We begin with Packt Like Sardines In a Crushd Tin Box which begins with some metallic sounds and percussion, before launching into a decent Electronic piece. This is definitely different with some unusual sounding singing from Thom Yorke, but it is a super good listen, with our singer pleading that he is a reasonable man and for others to “get off his case”. An interesting and intricate listen, this is a superb four minute listen from Radiohead that sounds psychedelic, electronic and futuristic. A great and intricate listening experience, this is fresh and different. A good start to this album, very unusual.
Next is Pyramid Song which is a piano led ballad with some weird instrumentation lying underneath the piano and Thom Yorke’s beautiful singing. This is quite a beautiful song that is definitely different here, and just sounds really fresh and different musically. There is an eastern touch to the string section here, and rolling drumbeats that are a little out of time here. You can easily hear where Coldplay were influenced sonically – it is here to hear. A fresh and different composition here, Radiohead do very well musically. A grand and beautiful piece of music, this is unique listening in retrospect. A fine piece of artistry here, wonderful music to listen to. It has a super weird outro as well.
Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors is an interesting IDM style pastiche with some awesome sections and melodies to boot. This is super cool to hear with many different sections of EDM based textures that sound amazing, mostly percussion based however. Still, an impressive and different piece of music, with Thom Yorke’s vocals treated and different sounding here. It gets interesting in the middle here, with some interspersing sound that are really out there. A brilliant piece of sectioned music that is pretty out there, a must listen from this album. Very eerie and intricate, yet a fine listen once again from Radiohead. It has a really odd outro as well.
You And Whose Army? sounds really experimental and weird, because it is. It is a mixture of strange sounding vocals from Thom Yorke, muffled guitar and a basic piece of poetry at hand. This is definitely odd, with some Jazz style double bass playing in the background as well. Very unusual and odd for a three minute long piece of music, this is an out there piece of edited Rock music that comes across as EDM. Strange stuff, but very essential listening.
Up next is I Might Be Wrong which begins with a distorted electronic groove, before some minimal guitar riffing enters, along with some beats. Thom Yorke’s singing sounds pretty effect laden and weird, once again, but is incredibly good. There is quite a catchy groove to this piece, and this is definitely different and unique, especially given the context of this album. A really great listen all the same, this is a strange but cool piece of artistic music with a punchy percussion section to boot. Enough to get one’s head nodding, this is really awesome music. Towards the end are some loose guitar parts, singing and EDM sounding drum beats. Excellent stuff, definitely worth hearing.
Following is Knives Out which is somewhat Jazzy sounding Rock music. It is pretty clear that Radiohead were still eager to get back into the Rock scene on this track. Thom Yorke sings in his unique way and the Fender Telecaster parts by guitarist Johnny Greenwood are excellent here. There are other interesting musical touches here as well, such as acoustic guitar. A good song, although admittedly, this does sound somewhat unusual for Radiohead to put this on this album here. Great music all the same, regardless. The mixture of clean guitar parts here are very good indeed, as is the extended solo section here. This song is a reassuring listen, however, despite the lyrical matter at hand. It ends abruptly.
Morning Bell/Amnesiac follows and it sounds like a warped piece of artistic and ingenious listening. This is a beautiful piece all the same, and follows a more traditional music sense here for Radiohead. By this point, one can say that Radiohead have a dual edged sort of album and artistic approach on this album. Short at barely over three minutes long, this is an artistic and intellectual listen that is very different. Very good listening, this is a gentle and very nicely produced acoustic ballad. Thom Yorke’s chanting throughout is redeeming as well. It ends with a psychedelic 1960s organ.
Dollars and Cents arrives next, and is more straightforward Rock music here. There is a combined singing and string section that is very interesting, along with some electronically treated drum work that is really cool. It is quite unclear what Thom Yorke and company are really doing here, but the artistry and majesty of this piece is undeniably strong and good listening. There are some excellent multitracked vocals here which build up, followed by the rest of the song as well here. It’s a strange listen this album all right, a decent mixture of the conventional and unconventional simultaneously. Towards the end, the cut up electronic sound effects are something completely different here. Excellent music all the same, this is really fine. Towards the end, an anti-climax is made, fading out with various instrumentation here. Cool.
Next is Hunting Bears which begins with a load of electronically processed guitars and strange wind rushing sounds. This continues for a large part of the track, which only is just over two minutes long. It’s an instrumental, but an out there and decent listen all the same. Quite melancholy sounding, some other excellent instrumentation is here as well. Good, but definitely odd.
After that is Like Spinning Plates which begins with some strange electronic IDM style static sounds. Before long, a warm sounding melody enters, somewhat like reversed guitars. This is real art school style stuff, obviously influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd and similar artistically minded musicians out there. No singing or your traditional Rock group sounds, just a good but rather bizarre bunch of textures. Eventually singing does come in, but is used more as an individual texture rather than your typical Rock vocals here. Radiohead had many tricks up their sleeve, and changed the way that music was looked at. An excellent piece of music effort, it sure sounds rather freaky and different. It finishes with a bunch of eerie sounds and textures, not what you’d expect at all.
Life In a Glasshouse is the last track here, and begins with some more unusual textures and sounds that are weird. Before long, some rather depressing piano enters, along with some strange horn sectioned parts. A really good effort, especially on the side of artistry, this is a really good listen all the same. “Don’t talk politics, and don’t throw stones,” is sung by Thom Yorke here about one’s fragile life. A weird and different piece of highly experimental and diverse music, this is really good listening all the same. It builds up to quite a loud piece of music in the second half here, and just sounds really good to finish off a strange and different music album that challenges conventional music listening. A good song, it ends with clarinet and trumpets parts that are definitely weird.
Understandably, this is a purely art based album. It is an excellent journey into destroying basic concepts of music and tearing down barriers of musical limitation as well. This was not as highly received as Kid A, and to be fair, it is not as consistent as that album. It’s still really good listening regardless, just very weird music. Fortunately, it is a good type of weird. A must have for any Radiohead fan out there today.
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