Radiohead — OK Computer
(Capitol CDP 7243 8 55229 2 5, 1997, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1998-02-01We can all think of examples of a progressive band over time starting to play music more in the mainstream (Genesis, Yes, pick your example), but how many times have we seen a mainstream band, as their career evolves, do the opposite? It may be too soon to tell if Radiohead is headed that way, but OK Computer in many ways works as a progressive album. To a listener grounded in the prog-rock idiom, it sounds reminiscent of mid-70s Pink Floyd and late-70s Hawkwind/Hawklords, though not in a derivative way. And it also manages to sound thoroughly modern, with the technological sheen that is only now becoming possible. The song “Paranoid Android” serves as a nutshell portrait of the album’s style. At over six minutes, it’s quite long for a single. It starts quietly with an acoustic guitar and a high, waifish vocal. Electric guitar provides slightly wah-wahed fills a little reminiscent of Dave Gilmour. As a background to a chorus section, a strange voice speaks in the distance. The second verse is a little louder than the first, and after the second chorus, a new riff is introduced on acoustic guitar. The riff is joined by an electric piano. After a bit, heavy electric guitars come in on the riff. Sometimes the four-beat pattern switches to seven under an almost atonal guitar solo. This is followed abruptly by a hymn-like keyboard section with vocal aahs which builds over the course of two minutes and adds a countermelody. Then the heavy riff crashes in again, doing the four and seven thing, for a brief loud section to finish it up. With this album, Radiohead has upped the level of complexity (in composition, arrangement, and concept) attempted by a post-Nirvana “alternative” pop band. The market will determine how widely accepted the experiment will be; but I’ll wager that many old prog-heads like me will find it challenging enough to bear repeated listening.
Related artist(s): Radiohead
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more