radiohead - in rainbows
apart from this being the most anticipated album for me, (well technically two, if you count the second disk included in the diskbox); i was anticipating more exactly how this album was going to make it into my impatient eardrums. as many radiohead fans, i already heard numerous 'new' songs which were to make it on the new album which, in the beginning, was vaguely more than a whisper amongst fans starved for a new shiny disc to spin. once news broke there was indeed a new album, radiohead, (one of the most innovative bands), decided to not deliver the cellophane jewel... well, not immediately. limiting it's release to 160 kbps, audiophiles were wailing as much in agony as in excitement.
in rainbows, may come across as more of a personal memoir at times, echoing fantastical cravings, youthful perceptions and evils of a temptation; other parts of in rainbows seem much more conscious of its large audience.
the opening track '15 step', strides out strutting. as most of the starting tracks on radiohead albums, it attempts to offset any preconceived notions of just exactly what you are getting into. electronic high hats, blipping bass and computerized claps through back to thom yorke's the eraser until it collides with an extremely bluesy guitar provided by jonny greenwood. yorke's voice maintains as a motif while the song continues to progress, adding more layers of seeming percussion with the occasional synth warble.
the second track: 'bodysnatchers', throws an avid radiohead fan into the bends timeline. a big fuzzy guitar with plenty of greenwood guitar squeals and yorke's frantic vocals claw for your attention. as he is declaring how he has "no idea what you are talking about", the song quickly fades into an acoustic guitar driven by haunting distortion alto guitars. all at once the song builds to a crescendo with the fuzzy bass line leading the way, where it tames back down, just saving enough energy for the final frantic stab.
'nude' is a radiohead fan favorite which has been floating around for some time now. it's original version was accompanied by an organ you would hear in the local presbyterian church. the song begins swirling softly backward as a hint of its different direction. more of an ethereal mix of 'punch up at the wedding' 's bass with harmonizing vocals akin to 'i will', the song echoes the treachery of seducing someone.
'weird fishes / arpeggi' has had a couple of makeovers. after debuting at the ether festival and then being scored and played with nazareth orchestra. the song is, in essence, loops of arpeggios which melodically churn into an inescapable texture. in the end, the ondes martinot looms above and you could quite possibly find yourself unable to untangle yourself from the dancing ocean floor.
a newer song, 'all i need' is derived from a warbling electric guitar and a bass clef of piano cleverly disguised by a synthesizer. the vocals recount past lives and inanimate details of lives, be it an animal trapped inside parked cars or days you ignore. amidst of all these symbolic symbiotic relationships, yorke throws in more than a dash of a grand piano and hints of a brass section and gives a taste of his amazing vocal capacity to garnish the crescendo.
the next song, many thought would be a refreshing filler sans vocals such as 'treefingers' or 'hunting bears'. in actuality, 'faust arp' turns out to sound more like 'blackbird' with light finger plucking acoustic guitars, gentle assuring vocals and soaring swing arrangements.
'reckoner' was a complete surprise to me. being one of the few thousand to witness the first and only performance of the original 'reckoner' at the gorge in 2001, i expected the raunchy thudding bass line with eccentric wails i took in over six years ago. a song which had heard when sitting on the ground waiting for the gates to open when, amongst many well known pieces, came this ugly and vulgar pulsating song which couldn't have been radiohead... at least i had thought. after being proven wrong in front of my own eyes at the show, i was sure i wouldn't be tricked again... but i fell to another transformation. the leading percussion recalls the rolling stones with more maracas and an ambling guitar which seems to find rhythm by coincidence. the result is breath taking, and after dedicating the song 'all of you' or proposing 'did i cater to all of your needs?' the song breaks down for a syrupy string seranade briefly only to return to the throbbing percussion and guitar while raising a bass line. as yorke's vocals seem to stretch into eternity, it's almost as you are engulfed in the sun's rays and the day turned into a holiday.
'house of cards' is an interesting radiohead song. most interesting because it is a bit of a love song; a bossa nova-esque guitar with a melody which would start hula dancer's waists shaking. it's also one of the more boring radiohead songs i've ever heard. jonny greenwood's guitar work with pickslides resembles airplanes taking off.
'jigsaw falling into place' practically bounces off your earbuds. the quick syncopation of the quickly strummed acoustic guitars, the jumping bass, to the jangling electric. yorke's vocals begin calmly almost as he is taking in a battlefield right before the battle. as the song builds, more urgency slips out until he becomes as animated as a baptist preacher on a rant depicting the casualty unfolding, 'you can feel it on your back'.
when i first heard 'videotape', i couldn't do much less than marvel at it's complexity. i downloaded a live version from a concert in berkely and fell in love. the lyrics were so simple, yet so powerful. in the live version, jonny greenwood's guitar accompanies yorke's piano and the drums gather themselves and roll up into almost a smith' s feel to the glorious finish. the version on in rainbows is resonates completely differently. it feels much more private; a video only his loved ones will ever see the light of, not legions of fans spanning nations. as stripped as it is, it much more resembles a track off the eraser rather than a radiohead project. the bass steps into the picture much earlier than the live version and overlays of thom's melodic harmonies all collide framing a breathtaking but frantic picture; as if trying to summarize his fondest memories in moments. the themes are still epic, as epic to me as 'a day in the life' and as the song dies down, off kilt metronomes try to offset thumping minimalist tom toms until the piano falls quiet on sustain.
radiohead is always moving in different directions and this album finds the continuing the search to discover more, from within the music and further. the album flows unlike most music on shelves today and most likely will not be grasped by people looking for some sweet singles to put on their ipod to work out with or to bump home in their suburban. when i came to the end of the album, i must admit i was a bit disappointed in videotape, the album ended on a much more melancholy note than i had expected. the live version was so much more emphatic and positive.
we are always much more intrigued by diminishing chords than by major chords, i've been told by a very wise person. often we derive more depth and meaning from a book where the lovable main character dies, rather than living a happy live in the bubblegum forest. just listen to videotape as the closing chapter in the novel.