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Atoms for Peace – AMOK

February 28, 2013

AMOKIf you are a Radiohead fan I am sure you have been awaiting this release, which is basically Thom Yorke’s second solo album.  In addition to Yorke, the album features Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker of Beck and R.E.M. on drums and Mauro Refosco on percussion.  The band has its origin in the touring band Yorke formed for his debut solo album The Eraser (2006 – oh my – has it been that long!).  If you want to learn more on the back story – Google it – this album has gotten plenty of pre-release press.

After years of struggling with post OK Computer Radiohead I am finally getting this electronic music.  I am absolutely loving this album – although who’s to say I wouldn’t have hated it in Y2K  like I hated Kid A at the time.  So either Yorke/Radiohead is perfecting this genre or I am finally waking up.  My guess is I am waking up.  I re-listened to The Eraser (which I thought I didn’t like) and it sounded great.

Despite being beat heavy electronic music, I find this album soulful and filled with hooks.  Typically I find this kind of music lifeless and monotonous.  The opening cut “Before Your Very Eyes…” is a minimalistic Eliminator-era ZZ Top song crossed with Afro-Beat (and Radiohead vocals).  It is down right funky in a narcotic sort of way.  You could choreograph a minuet to “Ingenue.”   Most of the album has hyper caffeinated drumming, softened by atmospheric keyboards and Yorke’s falsetto which floats over the proceedings calming the beast into a purring kitty cat.  “Stuck Together Pieces” could easily be a Fleetwood Mac song – there is a total pop song hiding under the electronic beats.

This album should be listened to on headphones or a stereo with good separation.  The arrangements are fearless in their use of two channels and the minimalistic nature of the music allows you to grab an instrument and ride it solo.  At first I was disappointed that Flea’s bass was not more prominent, but I have come to appreciate the subtly of it.

For my tired ears this is a very refreshing release.  With every listen I am hearing something new.  Highly recommended.

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