Radiohead — Kid A
(Capitol CDP 7243 5 27753 2 3, 2000, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2001-03-01OK Computer showed a rock band reaching beyond the conventions of commercial music, yet somehow managing to remain commercial, selling millions of albums and impressing a lot of non-mainstream listeners with the sophistication of the songcraft. With Kid A, the boys from Oxford take another step away from the middle of the road, and find their commercial appeal apparently still intact. There are ten tracks on the disc, and not one of them could really be called a song in a conventional sense. The melodies meander over soundscapes more than chords, guitars are barely recognizable, rhythms skitter around rather than propelling the music. Just as a person’s life usually doesn’t fit into a story arc (problem-struggle-resolution), the songs of Kid A don’t usually follow a musical arc. It’s more like the soundtrack to a journey, where you pass from one realm into another, but problems once presented aren’t necessarily resolved by the time you enter another realm. Taken as a whole, there is a sort of progression, from the quiet and slightly morose “Everything in Its Place” to the driving-nowhere chaos of “The National Anthem” to the uneasy peace of “Motion Picture Soundtrack.” Trumpet, sax, and trombone blow crazily throughout much of “The National Anthem” over the top of an unswerving one-chord bass line. This is pop? There’s a lot of shimmering Eno-esque ambiance and simple electric piano, a lot of highly processed sounds, a nifty 5/4 on “Morning Bell,” and many other interesting touches with which the record insinuates itself into the brain. What does it mean? I have no idea. There are no printed lyrics (and no credits beyond the song titles) and Yorke’s voice isn’t always clearly intelligible. But that ambiguity leads me to all sorts of impressionistic speculation, and for that alone, the disc is worthwhile.
Related artist(s): Radiohead
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more