not a member? click here to sign up
King Of Limbs
Sci-Fi Chamber Music As Imagined By Kubrick
Peter Murphy, 01 Mar 2011
Radiohead are still intent on dismantling the apparatus of Big Pharma Corpo Rock. Once they could’ve been a musclebound superpower, now they’ve devolved and donned black pyjamas. While erstwhile acolytes like Coldplay and Snow Patrol flag albums by six months and tour them for 18, the ‘Head recast themselves as a net-friendly guerilla unit liable to announce a downloadable album at a week’s notice and reschedule the ETA by 24 hours at the eleventh, with physical releases and deluxe ‘newspaper’ editions to follow. Well and good, although sometimes we miss the approach of the Event horizon, replete with all its attendant bread and circuses and midnight queues at HMV and Tower.
The title of the band’s eighth studio album might refer to a 1,000-year-old monster oak in Savernake forest, but it could equally serve as an homage to drummer Phil Selway, whose tightly coiled rhythms – sliced, diced and recombined into fractal patterns that have more to do with the industrial sounds of Frankfurt and Detroit than whiteboy rock or black funk – determine at least two thirds of this eight-track, 37-minute set. A 3D mix subjects Mr Selway to the same Dali-esque process as Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story 3, appendages detached, rearranged, reassembled and stuck on a wobbly slab of tortilla.
The opening ‘Bloom’ splices Terry Riley’s ice sculpture synth arpeggios with click-hop loops and Low-like Soviet bloc chic. Over all the busy-busy anthill industry, Mr. Yorke croons a slow-motion melody that might just constitute a love song. The effect is haunting, disquieting and rather beautiful. ‘Little By Little’ is a walking blues guitar figure, enervated and energised by Afrocentric horseclops, teacups and coconut shells. ‘Feral’ takes place in in Warp-space, contrasting Aphex Twin’s sine waves with Asian Extreme overdubs and fluent free-jazz patterns. The album’s single (don’t laugh), ‘Lotus Flower’ goes even further into the realms of abstract musique: Krautrock rigidity contrasted with a warm Motown soul vocal, compressed inside a claustrophobic mix, while the disembodied melodies of ‘Seperator’ wheel around a scrupulously tidy Selway part and almost dubby bassline.