Radiohead: Kid A (CD, 48:15) Capitol 27753, 2000 CYBERHOME: http://www.hollywoodandvine.com Radiohead's previous CD, OK Computer, has been heralded almost unanimously as one of the finest modern progressive rock recordings. It was both a giant leap forward from their previous recordings, and a giant leap forward for popular music, challenging listeners and demanding their full attention. Songs like "Paranoid Android" and "Aircrash" weren't cookie-cutter, brain-candy for the masses; these songs were INTENSE. The fact that OK Computer met with such critical and popular success was a good sign that perhaps there really was a place for intelligent music in mainstream pop culture. Of course all that success left Radiohead fans with one question - "How is Radiohead going follow THAT?" Well, what Radiohead did to top OK Computer is their latest release - reportedly a concept album about an present-day cloned human being that has been walking among us - titled Kid A. This CD marks an even greater leap forward musically for Radiohead than did OK Computer; Kid A takes every musical convention held dear by the majority of the record-buying public (clean production, verse/chorus/verse, guitars that sound like guitars, etc.) and simply threw them out of the recording studio window. Radiohead has taken some very daring and aggressive chances with their latest release, and it pays off in spades with yet another modern classic that quite frankly makes OK Computer sound like bubble gum pop. From the first eerie organ chords of “Everything in its Right Place” to the funeral dirge “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” Radiohead wears its brooding heart on its sleeve with some incredibly raw and emotional music that is sure to immediately disturb fans upon first listen. There is something throughout the whole of Kid A that just seems a little askew: the vocals are sometimes a bit off key, the chords are dissonant, ethereal sound effects, backwards tape loops – Radiohead pulls out every trick in the book to create a soundscape that is both captivating and soul-jarring at the same time. Fans of Radiohead’s “Creep” need not apply – you’ll barely find a proper guitar sound anywhere on the album. The title track Kid A can only be described as sounding like the maternity ward at an insane asylum, featuring discordant music box samples combined with Thom Yorke’s barely discernable and heavily distorted voice. The vocals on this track reminded me a little bit like what I’d expect a parent’s voice to sound like to a one hour-old baby. “National Anthem” starts out almost normal with a driving bass lick and good backbeat, but the song gradually introduces a horn section that soon takes over the track and turns it into an out-of-control acid jazz number that is sure to baffle program directors nationwide. Radiohead does at least include a couple of ALMOST ready-for-radio tracks with “How to Disappear Completely” (a beautiful ballad featuring some nice acoustic guitar and excellent vocals from Yorke), and “Optimistic” which could probably be snuck into an AOR play list. However, other than those two exceptions, (and they’re even stretching it a bit), there are no tracks on Kid A that I expect to receive any radio airplay whatsoever. This is by no means a bad thing, as it will force listeners to hear the CD in its entirety, (which is how it should be heard). However, the fact that Kid A is about as radio-friendly as Sun Ra may be the reason that the band is releasing a follow-up album of apparently more accessible songs in a mere six months. While all of Kid A is nothing short of brilliant, Radiohead really hits the mark on the track “Idioteque” – a song combining dance hall beats, bizarre background noises, and a fantastic vocal turn by Yorke. The lyrics, which seem to be the thoughts of a man running for an underground bunker during a nuclear strike, add to the “bomb shelter discoteque” feeling. What’s really interesting about “Idioteque” is that while the lyrics and background noises are extremely disturbing, the house-style beat makes you want to move you body at the same time. A very strange mixture of emotions that works incredibly well. So I suppose the big question comes down to "Is it as good as OK Computer?” Well, I’m going to cop out and say that it’s impossible to compare the two, as they have almost nothing in common. OK Computer at least clung to a thread of convention - Kid A completely explores new musical ground with no regard for the preconceived notions of what people think music SHOULD sound like. Radiohead continues to push and tear away at musical barriers, and must be commended for their adventurous spirit, especially when it results in Kid A - a release that stands as an excellent exit soundtrack for the 20th century. Another masterpiece. More information on Radiohead can be found at http://www.radiohead.com - Michael Askounes (firstname.lastname@example.org) CREDITS: Thom Yorke: Vox, Guitars, Synths Johnny Greenwood: Guitars, Synths Ed O'Brien: Guitars Colin Greenwood: Bass Phil Selway: Drums TRACKLIST: 1. Everything in its Right Place (4:12) 2. Kid A (4:47) 3. The National Anthem (5:50) 4. How to Disappear Completely (5:57) 5. Treefingers (3:43) 6. Optimistic (5:17) 7. In Limbo (3:32) 8. Idioteque (5:08) 9. Morning Bell (4:38) 10. Motion Picture Soundtrack (4:21) 11. (Hidden Track) (0:49)
EER Editor note: Hmm, Mike, sounds like I'm gonna have to find myself a copy of this! Thanx for tipping we audiophilic, eclectic weirdos off to this unique release. Ciao!
To purchase this recording and get more info, soundclips, etc.
CLICK ON ARTIST'S NAME ABOVE
OR . . .
Please visit my BUY IT E.E.R. NOW INDEX PAGE
Please try my brand spankin' new
EER and AMAZON.com QUIK-LINKs
buyer's guide to recommended music.
go to my LINKS page and find the vendors' section.