I may be 8 years late, but this shit is good.
I’m listening to Radiohead’s Kid A and it’s freaking me out.
‘Everything in it’s right place,’ starts of will a killer cool hammond electric piano (with a little play in it) hitting some wild Vangelis/Blade Runner style chords. Rhythm sensitive samples of everyday sounds dance in and out of my ears with stereophonic grace. Vocals start off nice and soft making you think everything will be alright despite the dangerous pace of the bass drum. A particularly spooky young girls voice is so cut and sampled it’s seems automated and clearly meant to freak me out personally. Eventually I’m forced to realize this wave of music is crashing down onto me and and I’m helpless but to keep moving to the beat. Nice breakdown back to the Hammond electric piano. Interestingly enough the progressions aren’t poly-rhythmic, which allows for this wall of music to creep up on you.
‘Kid A,’ the second track, throws a Steve Miller vibe out in the first few second and then chides me for thinking such a thought and quickly dissolves into a haunting mash of notes followed by a pounding drum beat and higher end organ stabs. Interesting shyte. There’s a lot of audio play between channels to keep me occupied…nice of them to think of that. I don’t think I’m supposed to understand the talking voice that comes in and it’s probably on purpose. Nice drumming in this piece, open snare and closed hi-hat break down into a benny induced watercolor painting of subtle chord changes. And what’s this? 3/4 of the way into the song there’s a fade in of synthetic strings…bizarre but it seems to all fit together so well but to a scary end.
‘The National Anthem’ Isn’t my favorite. I can’t help but feel the stupor of audio induced drug haze when I listen to this song. The base line is the hook for me. The magic of it is that it’s only two fucking notes and it’s killer. The horns halfway through only legitimize the flat out funk that spits out of the headphones so hard it’ll bruise your ears.
‘How to disappear completely’ starts off with a nice acoustic guitar obviously meant to cleanse the audio palate. The song isn’t a happy song but it’s up tempo and the contrast of the tamborine rhythm and the unnerving, tuned a half step lower high end synth strings make for a haunting, confused song. Again, clearly the point of the artist…in fact the whole album seems purposefully stylized.
‘Treefingers’ starts off with slow progression of major chords, which don’t seem popular on this album so far. Very fat, analog sounds again, reminiscent of the 80’s era mini-moog synthesizers heard in movies like ‘Escape from New York’ and ‘Blade Runner.’ The virbratic hum of those 3 lane wide, super low chords is percussive enough to give this piece some weight.
I’ve heard ‘Optimistic’ before and liked it. Listening with headphones it’s easier to hear the intended distortion on the percussion that switches oh so subletly to the E tuned guitar. The wispy but serious vocal gets banged around by the ominous and foreboding chord chops on the dual guitars. I like the twang of the base and can hear it over the guitar distortion. Someone paid very close attention to the engineering of this album and the results are obvious. The song is basically up and down the scale in ‘D,’ but again, the simplicity works for a hauntingly beautiful song.
‘In Limbo’ is a mess. It’s almost a free form session for each instrument while staying withing a 4 key range. I don’t dig the reverb on the vocal track, it sounds like shrieking to me. The 2 note hammond banging doesn’t help either…I just keep thinking I should tell this guy that hitting the ‘E’ like that will damage the hammond and they don’t make these anymore. The song ends into a dissolve of every sound that preceded in the past 3.whatever minutes.
‘Idiotech’ I appreciate the title of this song…and Radiohead turned Idiot tech on it’s ear, and my ears thank them. Interesting incorporation of beats drum machined in from ’88 and electronica gleened from (do I hear microwave buttons?) who knows where. The vocals on this track work, the digitally separated harmonies give promise and a ‘feel good’ vibe. Again the percussive use of everything being played is akin to immersion. It leads into…
‘Morning Bell’ starts of nice and sublime. The easy hammond plods lightly over the snare and closed hi-hat in a nice song-long marriage that makes you feel like everything is going to be alright if you hold on. Halfway through you’re rewarded by a step up in octave for the base and a major chord descendo into the a stripped down drum, organ and killer base show that goes out it’s way to let you know how brilliant it is. Fucking brilliant. Just for realizing the brilliance Radiohead changes up the drums on the last 25 seconds of the song to let you know you’re just a listener.
The last tune is steeped in anthemic melancholia. The use of the air operated church organ, lack of rythmic undertone bely the end of this album. They even soothe me with harps and triangles and angel’s voices. This song is short sweet and would not be appreciated outside of this album. Heck, none of these songs are meant to be heard out of the context of each other. I like that. Noticing that the song ends yet the track is only halfway done I feel I’m in for a surprise…
More heavenly sounds. Angelic synthetic voices point upward with a distinctly non-secular sound. I’ll need to chew on that one.
Overall this is a great fucking album. I’m thinking that the first few songs are my favorite but I’m sure that will change. This is an album that is clearly meant to be absorbed multiple times and on multiple levels. I can’t imagine how this completely passed me by for all these years…how? I’ve a habit of not watching television series until they’re over and I love them…I never imagined that would be the case musically. The only thing that sucks about this album is the fact that it’s 10:50 and I’m going to be up all night listening to this thing over and over again.
Radiohead Kid A CD : $18.99 +tax
Learning something about yourself listening to a great fucking album: Priceless
- Radiohead – Kid A