The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'radiohead'
In case you haven't seen it: Radiohead's video for their new song House Of Cards. Shot using no cameras but only 3D volumetric scanners and computer rendering, the video consists of disintegrating 3D dot representations of suburban streetscapes, key parties and Thom Yorke singing. What's more, there's a video on the making of it, the data set is available for download (in CSV format), and Radiohead are soliciting user-made reinterpretations of this video here.
Radiohead have announced the details of their upcoming album. It will be titled In Rainbows. Even more interesting is the means of its distribution. Radiohead's contract with major recording behemoth EMI had ended, and not surprisingly, the band had chosen not to renew it. More surprisingly, they didn't go to another label. Instead, they will be selling the album themselves, over the web, in a two-tiered pricing structure. True fans who want the prestige of the collectible article can buy a two-disc box for £40 (US$80, or just under 100 Australian dollars), whereas those who just want the music to listen to can buy a downloadable version, nominating their own price for it. (The downloadable version is also free with the disc version.)
There aren't any more details at this stage. (I'd hope that the downloadable version is in a high-bit-rate open format, and not, say, DRM-shackled .WMA files, and for £40, you'd hope that you get something more impressive than a double jewel case with a booklet.) There is also no news on how Radiohead will make this available to people who aren't on the internet or don't like buying things online. I suspect that a deal with Starbucks is probably not on the cards, though.
Skeet Spirit is a collection of Radiohead songs reinterpreted (rather loosely) in the "crunk" style (i.e., as an aggressive, hypersexualised thug music somewhere between Miami Booty Bass and gangsta rap). Includes songs like "No Sizzuruprises", "Creepin' (On Dat Ass)", and "Talk Show Hoes".
(via Boing Boing)
As alternative-rock fans age and, in many cases, start families, a US company has brought out lullaby versions of alternative rock songs. Hip parents can now soothe their kids to sleep with mellow, ambient renditions of Metallica, The Cure, Tool, Radiohead and such played on glockenspiels and acoustic guitars (or, indeed, Coldplay, who for some reason are still classified as "alternative" (presumably because of their shaggy indie-boy haircuts or something) rather than filed next to Dido, Celine Dion and James Blunt in the adult-contemporary section). Yesteryear's teen rebellion becomes today's nursery music.
Lullaby. A whisper. The Cure's music is just like heaven to their fans. Beautiful, infinite and captivating, The Cure's best work captures a dreamy sense of love and longing. This album is a mesmerizing and serene take on the kind of quirky, romantic songs that the Cure helped make famous. If only tonight we could sleep as soundly as your child will after hearing these interpretations of The Cure.
I wonder what else we could see get the lullaby treatment. Nine Inch Nails perhaps, or Limp Bizkit? NWA? 90s rave techno? Perhaps this phenomenon will cross over with Nouvelle Vague, giving post-punk parents baby-friendly versions of the Buzzcocks and Bauhaus and such.
(via Boing Boing)
The Graun on Thom Yorke's solo album:
But The Eraser is no more experimental than the average Radiohead album. In fact, it sounds exactly like you would expect a Thom Yorke solo album to sound: twitchy electronic beats, doomy washes of synthesizer, backing vocals that are invariably high, wordless and ghostly, except on Skip Divided, where they literally involve whimpering. The lyrics are one long defeated sigh, interrupted by the occasional tut and roll of the eyes. We are variously informed that there's no light in the dark, time's running out for us, things are fucked up, it gets you down and people get crushed like biscuit crumbs. Even the guitar on The Clock sounds like it's grumbling. At its worst, The Eraser brings to mind the unlikely image of Autechre fronted by Private Frazer off Dad's Army: thump, bleep, splonk, we're all doomed, I tell you.
Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood are doing a gig in London at Koko on the first of May. The gig will be part of Friends of the Earth's campaign to promote action on climate change; ticket details will be announced on the site.
A Qantas aerospace engineer has found that pumping sound into aircraft wings makes them perform better. Furthermore, he found that some sound performs better than others; for example, JJJ grunge-rock band Spiderbait works better than Pommy art-rock miserablists Radiohead. (Of course, the question remains of which Radiohead material he tested it with. Would Creep, for example, work differently from Kid A, or do Thom Yorke's nasal vocal timbres have a uniform effect on aerodynamics?)
Apparently Radiohead are recording their new album. They have 15 new songs, and the album is expected to be ready for release next year. There's no word on who will release it; Hail To The Thief completed their contract with EMI, and they made noises about going it alone.
Morrissey, Radiohead and Jarvis Cocker are now facing the spectre of fatal loss of credibility, after revelations that a Tory official likes their music. Say it ain't so, David Cameron!
As every student knows, a liking for the Smiths, Radiohead and Pulp can be a badge of pride, confirmation of your status as a romantic intellectual loner. If you're a Tory MP, however, it rather suggests that you're either not listening to the lyrics properly - what do you make of all that stuff about class resentment - or view listening to music as a slightly disturbing form of self-flagellation.
Retro-styled major-label-indie act The Scissor Sisters (they're the ones who sound like early Elton John combined with 10CC) are in a similar predicament, with Tory co-chairman Dr. Liam Fox has declared himself a fan. Then again, it could be argued that there is something inherently conservative in the recent wave of revivalist bands (Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, The Scissor Sisters, The Killers, and indeed the entire '70s rock revival). However, it's probably safe to say that Dido's credibility will emerge unscathed from her recent naming as Nicholas Soames' favourite artist:
The gulf between what you assume that message is and how others perceive it is often vast, however. Soames may think that liking multi million-selling Dido suggests he is a man of the people, blessed with populist taste. But liking anything that innocuous could suggest you loathe pop music, preferring it to waft delicately in the background rather than risk it moving you in any way.
Rodeohead is a banjo-pickin' bluegrass medley of Radiohead songs. (via bOING bOING)
I went to the Radiohead show at the Rod Laver Arena tonight. Originally I was thinking of giving it a miss (spending 2 hours staring at The Cure through binoculars from half a kilometre or so away turned me against huge venues), though I ended up going; and I'm glad I did.
First up were the night's "special guests"; some JJJ alternative band neither I nor the indie kids next to me recognised. Rather energetic, punky and syncopated, though not impressive enough to make me hunt down their details and start following them around.
Then they stopped, having played for maybe half an hour (assuming that they started at 8; they were playing when I took my seat). While the stage was being set up, someone had decided to put a reggae CD on the PA; an odd choice, though pleasant enough.
Then Radiohead went on, and launched into There There. They did most of Hail To The Thief, a few older songs (Paranoid Android, No Surprises, Pyramid Song and Kid A were there, along with some from The Bends; one thing they didn't play, which would have been nice, was their piano-driven live version of Like Spinning Plates, though one can't have everything). It was quite an impressive set. Thom sang, danced around, played guitar, and played a grand piano which the roadies kept moving back and forth between songs; the other members did guitar, bass, Mellotron and glockenspiel, as well as providing harmony vocals. (I think it's the harmony vocals that really make Radiohead's sound. That and half a dozen other things, anyway.) They did an encore with about 3 songs in it, and finished up with a version of
Kid A Everything In Its Right Place with Thom singing, then another member looping his voice through effects pedals or similar and chopping it up; then Thom walked off, while his digitally mangled vocals were playing; it was like a Blue Monday for the 21st century. Oh, and the light show wasn't bad either.
This time I got a slightly better seat than at the Cure gig; it was a few rows closer to the front (not that that made a huge dent in the distance), and was right in the middle. I discovered that my PowerShot G2's 11x digital zoom wasn't quite enough (I didn't manage to get any good close-ups of band members, save what was on the giant video screens beside the stage).
(Gig photography tip: Be sure to manually set the exposure time when taking photos. Digital cameras' automatic modes tend to err on the side of overexposure, leading to washed-out, blurry pictures. 1/100 to 1/160 was a good range for the pictures above.)
And I was not the only one taking photos, by the look of it. Below, the sea of heads that was the general admission area was dotted with the telltale glowing white rectangles of digital camera screens. In the row in front of me, one cheeky bugger was even telecasting it on his 3G phone to a mate.
In a recent interview, Radiohead drop hints that they're going to part ways with EMI and the entire major-label apparatus, and release music online (which could mean MP3s or DRM-encumbered Windows Media).
Radiohead continue to support anti-globalisation causes, and yet they have spent the past decade being promoted and distributed by a vast global marketing machine. Teasingly, they have dropped hints that they might divorce from EMI, becoming some kind of autonomous online operation. But for now, is Yorke comfortable with his status as a corporate employee?
"Not really, I'm pretty touchy about it," he grumbles. "But if you want to actually have your record in a shop, then you've got no way round it because you have to go through major distributors. Personally one of the reasons that I wanted to be in a band was actually to be on the high street. I don't want to be in a cupboard. I write music to actually communicate things to people."
Further in the piece, he also lays into the IMF and the neocons.
The Null Device's top 8 records of 2003:
- 8. Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun. A nicely laid-back collection of grooves from Yo La Tengo, and more than a worthy follow-up to And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.
- 7. Martin L. Gore - Counterfeit2. Covers of acts including Nick Cave, the Velvet Underground and others, done in glitchy, electronic fashion, with the characteristic Depeche Mode formula of aching humanity and cold electronics. Note: the Australian release is corrupt; the US release isn't.
- 6. Ninetynine - Receiving the Sounds of Science Fiction EP. A five-track taster of their upcoming album, available only through a singles club in the US. Has some good new tracks, though I still think they shouldn't have taken the guitar line out of San Pedro.
- 5. The Postal Service - Give Up. Indie synth-pop from Seattle; intelligent and well arranged, even if some of the love ballads may be a bit too perky.
- 4. Radiohead - Hail To The Thief. This could possibly have been album of the year, or close to, had it not been for EMI deciding to release only defective versions in most markets (the US being an exception). In any case, the set of MP3s leaked onto the internet prior to release was actually slightly better than the released version (for example, The Gloaming lost its third verse before making it to CD). NOTE: The Null Device does not advocate violating copyright laws.
- 3. Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress. The Glaswegian indie-pop collective's latest album, produced by Trevor Horn, and bouncing all over the place, from rock to pop to retro. A bit fey in places, but then again, you'd sort of expect that.
- 2. Minimum Chips - Gardenesque. Three tracks they recorded for SBS and a longish studio arrangement. Good, if a bit short. Maybe one of these years they'll record a full-length album?
- 1. Spearmint - My Missing Days. Spearmint probably have the best songwriting of any English indie band these days. Their songs are very much about subjective experience, and don't confine themselves to the usual romantic-relationship clichés that sell well, but cover other things, like accumulating too much stuff as one goes through life, or the process of really getting into a book. Their music is pretty good too, reminiscent in places of Pulp or someones.
(A number of albums were disqualified for not being available to the public in non-defective CD format; being available on import from the United States or similar was sufficient. These include albums by David Bridie, The Thrills and Client.)
It's official: Radiohead are touring Australia next year. They're playing the Rod Laver Arena on April 26, with tickets going on sale in about a week. I'm not sure I'll go; I went to see The Cure (yes, I know) at the Rod Laver Arena some years back, and needed to rent a pair of binoculars to actually see the band; had they been booked into, say, the Metro (where I saw New Order and Kraftwerk) or the Forum (where Moz tore the roof off the place), I'd buy a ticket in a flash.
In other rumours, a certain Scottish band may be touring Australia next year; they'll probably play at the Corner or the Prince or somesuch, undoubtedly supported by Architecture In Helsinki or The Lucksmiths or someone like that.
And speaking of touring bands, FourPlay are coming down to play the Queenscliff festival. So Melbourne fans will be able to see them slightly more conveniently than by travelling up to Sydney.
Rumour of the day: Radiohead may be coming to Australia around April of next year. Start saving, and keep those binoculars handy...
The new big thing among New York's hipsters is hating Radiohead: (via VM)
"You have to have a very concrete opinion about why you like or dislike Radiohead, and maybe a lot of people are afraid to say they dislike them because they're afraid that their only answer is going to be 'it seems too smart for me.' "
"Hating Radiohead is the hipster's dirty little secret," says Franzman, the entertainment guide editor.
"There's definitely now a symbolic value to saying you hate Radiohead - even Kid Rock makes a big deal about hating Radiohead. He even has a video where he's literally using toilet paper with the word 'Radiohead' embossed on it."
Hang on; if Kid Rock is leading the I-hate-Radiohead bandwagon, could it be that the hip thing is ironically hating Radiohead, in much the same sense as wearing a mesh trucker cap?
When you expose 9-to-11-year-olds to Radiohead and ask them to draw what the music suggests to them, you may get something like this. Some are surprisingly existential, others are somewhat prosaic, and one of them is of a 1,000-foot ice cream cone, reaffirming the adage that when children recount a story they often put correct it, adding the crucial missing element of ice cream.
For the first few songs, the kids hardly move, scarcely even changing facial expressions. One girl plants her head on her desk face-first. The "hold your head in your hands and look completely confused" look is extremely popular.
Jeffrey, 9 Easily the most disturbing of several you're-going-to-hell panoramas. The booth in the center reads "Free Suicides." Someone buy this kid a Coldplay CD.
I got the limited-edition CD version of the new Radiohead album yesterday (from the US, where it's available on proper CDs). I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but I've noticed some differences from the preview: there are additional, rather faint, voices at the start of the first track, for example. Disappointingly, however, they've cut the entire third verse out of The Gloaming, reducing it in length by some 50 seconds.
I've just ordered Radiohead's Hail to the Thief from the U.S. The local copy, you see, is "copy controlled" (i.e., distributed on a deliberately defective CD which doesn't work in some computer CD-ROMs and other devices). It works well enough if you run Windows and run a player application on the CD, not minding the poor quality of the low-bit-rate WMA versions provided and having to have the disc in the drive the whole time and trusting EMI's proprietary player program not to spy on you, delete your MP3s or fux0r your registry out of malice, stupidity or both, but if you use Linux, you're SOL. Unless you're lucky and your CD-ROM drive ignores the "Copy Control" voodoo and lets you rip everything without a hitch; but IMHO, that's not good enough, and if the local EMI subsidiary disagree, they can do without the hefty subsidies I've been paying them over the years. And with the peso being at a high, ordering from the U.S. is affordable again.
This isn't the first EMI disc of which I've ordered a Red Book copy from abroad. A while ago I picked up Goldfrapp's new one, Black Cherry (which is OK, though not as good as Felt Mountain; and it does seem that she's trying to be fashionable and jump on the '80s tinny-synth neo-electro bandwagon like everybody else), and Martin Gore's Counterfeit2 (which is very, very nice; basically a collection of covers, done with the combination of cold electronic glitches and bleeps and aching humanity that Depeche Mode fans will feel right at home with; I'd say it's probably better than any Mode since Violator, in fact). I also picked up the quasi-official fan edition of David Bridie's Hotel Radio (which is also excellent, and not as far from Martin Gore's territory as one would think).
Of course, some EMI titles have fallen by the wayside; for example, I probably won't be bothered to import the new Placebo album.
There's a good piece on Radiohead and their new album in today's Age (sourced from the Telegraph):
As far back as October 1991 Yorke was demonstrating his singular lyrical vision. In the band's first interview he described how an early song, Nothing Touches Me, was "based on an artist who was imprisoned for abusing children and spent the rest of his life in a cell, painting. But the song is about isolating yourself so much that one day you realise you haven't got any friends." When it was pointed out that the scenario sounded fairly miserable, Yorke replied, "Yeah, I'm just aggressive and sick."
And this bit where he explains The Gloaming:
"I was totally hooked on Radio 4, and it coincided with Noah's times to get up (for feeding). We were staying in our house on the coast, and in the evenings I used to go driving. I'd go into this weird dream state. There was something about the colours of the headlights, the twilight and the animals running into the bushes for cover. It had this ominous nature that stuck with me. It was all wrapped up with the fact that I found it incredibly difficult to come to terms with the fact that maybe we were leaving our children with no future at all. This imminent sense of moving into the dark ages again. The rise of all this right-wing bigotry, stupidity, fear and ignorance."
And another piece on Radiohead from the same Age:
Youth culture's connection to corporate culture is just one of the socially aware angles explored on the album. While past Radiohead lyrics - written by singer Thom Yorke - largely addressed the inner life, Hail to the Thief moves the focus outward. Previous themes of alienation and our relation to modern machinery have taken a backseat to our relation to society's power structures. Though Greenwood feels Yorke's lyrics embrace "sarcasm, wit and ambiguity," there's often a sorrowful or condemning tone. The band's original title for the album was The Gloaming, which, Greenwood explains, "is an old English word for that period of half light before it becomes dark. The world feels a bit like that at the moment."
In fact, all 14 songs on the album have subtitles, making for names as bulky as Sail to the Moon (Brush the Cobwebs Out of the Sky) and Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury & Executioner). That should provide nice ammunition for all those who find this band too intellectual by half. Greenwood explains the idea for the subtitles came from "old Victorian playbills which chronicled the kind of moralistic songs which were played in music halls. That whole theatre culture was wiped out by the development of cinema."
In the recent Slate (the same one with this Salam-Pax-was-my-translator article), there is a review/summary/explanation of the new Radiohead album:
I hear their dialectic progression out of order--Kid A and Amnesiac are the thesis, The Bends and OK Computer are the antithesis, and Hail to the Thief is the synthesis, though it's much closer to the last two than any of the "rock" albums.
The effect isn't quite a lullaby; I've got that wrong. He's keeping himself awake with these worries, these phrases he repeats over and over--"The raindrops, the raindrops," or "they will suck you down to the other side"--and then he needs to talk himself back to sleep, or off the ledge. They've been like this for a few years, even before Yorke became a parent and had another mind to soothe. Amnesiac did the soothing bit, too, but Hail really makes it explicit.
To compare the two volumes, as I think of them: Kid A felt like you were spending a cold winters day in an unfriendly village, with the only relief with the sun coming out just as you're setting off for home. Amnesiac, though equally as dystopian, encapsulates the feeling that you've moved into that village for whatever bizarre reason, become a regular at the pub, and starting to make sense of the local rumour mill, where you're the target all too often.
Apparently the new Radiohead album has been leaked onto the Internet, with the usual truisms about cats, bags, genies and bottles applying. In fact, some speculate that the band (who are no copy-control zealots) are behind the leak themselves. Now the Radiohead fans out there may not be at the mercies of the crippled drink-coaster edition that EMI are likely to see fit to release.
Ah yes, and here is the announcement of the next Radiohead album. It's titled "Hail to the Thief" (hmmm; that'll go down well in Middle America; there goes their chance to play at the next Superbowl), due on June 9 and has 14 tracks. Of course, since they're on EMI, it's going to be Copy Controlled™ to hell, at least in Australia. No thanks; I think I'll just steal the MP3s. Or buy an imported Red Book copy from some other territory.
The time is nigh upon us for the obligatory "top 10 albums of the year" lists (Graham already has his, for example). I'm not going to post my best CDs of 2002 just yet (for one, I'm still not through with all of this year's releases, and am still awaiting a particular consignment from Twee Kitten); however, I am going to do something related, that is, look at the lists for 2001 I wrote up a year ago, here and here, and see how they hold up a year later; which of my picks of the year have stood the test of time, which have fallen by the wayside, and which discs have emerged subsequently as favourites of that particular year. So please allow me this exercise in self-indulgent omphaloskepsis.
Firstly, the RAN list:
- New Buffalo, About Last Night. I'm still rather fond of this quirky little EP, though haven't listened to it much lately. (Apparently, Sally's off in LA recording an album with EMI/Capitol money. Hopefully they won't turn her into Danielle Spencer or Geri Halliwell or some generic pretty girl singer, though history doesn't give one many reasons to be optimistic.)
- Lush, Ciao! Best Of. Haven't listened to it, but have since then picked up the entire Lush back catalogue, plus some unreleased MP3s. Split and Lovelife still get played every so and so (in fact, I'm listening ti Split right now, and it was one of the discs I burned to CD-R and took to London with me.) As such, Ciao! has done its work admirably.
- Radiohead, Amnesiac. Still gets played every now and then; though of the Radiohead back-catalogue, OK Computer gets the most play around here.
- Spearmint, A Different Lifetime. Since last year, I've picked up their previous 3 discs as well. A Different Lifetime and its more baggy-oriented predecessor A Week Away would be my favourites.
- Black Box Recorder, Worst Of. Gleefully sardonic, and some of their best work (funny how B-sides sometimes tend to be that way).
- Prop, Small Craft Rough Sea. This CD still rocks. Groovy, cooler than cool and yet with powerful momentum.
- Radiohead, I Might Be Wrong Live Recordings. Haven't listened to this much over the past six months or so, though I prefer the version of Like Spinning Plates to the Amnesiac one.
(Of the honourable mentions, I've listened to the Angels of the Universe soundtrack and the Sealifepark album since. The Zero 7 album sort of got shelved, as I really only liked one track of it. Jan Jelinek's Loop Finding Jazz Records suffered a similar fate, having failed to hold my interest with its ultimately less than satisfying combination of deep-house-like rhythms and chords and Max/MSP laptop glitchery; and TISM's De Rigeurmortis lasted about one and a half listens. Oh, and as for the Field Mice best-of, that's still one of my favourites and is usually not far from the CD player.)
And now for the unsung favourites; the CDs that didn't make the list, but ended up redeeming themselves after further listening:
- A Silver Mt. Zion, He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms. Bleak, desolate, existentially despondent, and beautiful.
- Models, Melbourne: Their early tracks. The whole thing didn't grab me, but Party Girls and Atlantic Romantic are pretty cool.
- Mogwai, My Father My King: a 20-or-so minute wall of intense, immersive noise. Put it on, turn it up, and feel it engulf you. It's all good.
- Vivian Girls, The, The Vivian Girls: like a slice of dimly-lit early-80s post-punk claustrophobia; it's great, especially Black Chair In A Black Room. (To be fair, it probably slipped the list because it was released in 2000, but I think it still rates a mention.)
So there it is. Watch this space for the best of 2002.
Via The Fix, a big list of links to MP3s of tracks played on the John Peel show, from artists including Mogwai, Hefner, Set Fire To Flames, Trembling Blue Stars, Solex, King of Woolworths, Kid 606, Low, The Aislers Set and more. They're not MP3s of the actual Peel sessions, but of original recordings, as released by the artists or their labels.
Excellent; FourPlay cover Radiohead's How To Disappear Completely, one of my favourite Radiohead songs. I can't wait to hear what they do with it.
31/12; 7 hours remaining (cont.):
Favourite CDs of 2000:
- Cocteau Twins - Stars and Topsoil
- A collection of some of the Cocteau Twins' best material from 1982 to 1990. Has some great songs, like Aikea-Guinea and Heaven or Las Vegas
- Radiohead - Kid A
- Yes, it was over-hyped; the press wouldn't shut up about it and your local Sanity/HMV had stacks of it. And yes, others said it was a load of wank. But once you get past that, you have an interesting album. Some have compared it to The Cure's Pornography, perhaps fairly, only with more of a Warp influence and some odd time signatures. Favourite track: probably How To Disappear Completely.
- Minimum Chips - Freckles
- An EP from a local act, in a sort of Stereolabish vein; hope they do a full album soon.
- Baxendale - You Will Have Your Revenge
- Electronic pop (though not synthpop) with tongue firmly in cheek. Some of the songs get boring after a while, but I Love the Sound of Dance Music is a classic.
- Stone Roses - The Remixes
- Some great reworkings of the Stone Roses, ranging from Rabbit in the Moon's acid-rave remix of I Wanna Be Adored (which sounds as if they could have done most of it with ReBirth) to Kinobe's mellow reworking of Elizabeth My Dear.
- FourPlay String Quartet, The Joy Of
- Their second album, with some great tracks, including a dub/klezmer two-part and a vicious-sounding PWEI remake. Their remix CD, slated for early 2001, will be something to look out for.
- Piano Magic, Artists' Rifles
- Arty and understated and hard to describe, though something I've been listening to a lot.
With honourable mentions going to Broadcast, Extended Play Two, Björk, SelmaSongs, Beulah, When Your Heartstrings Break, Deepchild, Hymns from Babylon, LTJ Bukem, Journey Inwards, Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out and Black Box Recorder's various EPs (mostly for the B-sides), (Note: this is counting only CDs I acquired this year.)