zondag 24 juli 2011

Beauty will destroy your mind

At 9:45 am this morning I was awoken by the ringing of the doorbell. Which would be unforgivable, were it not for the fact that I had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our local mailman. Rushing downstairs armed with nothing but my favorite boxers, my slightly less than abnormally haired belly and the keys to my house, I carefully opened the door. A halo of light surrounds the orange messiah. It is indeed the mailman, with in his hands the physical manifestation of my aural desires. He knows this. I know this. Our glances meet fleetingly, we exchange our greetings and the typical transfer proceeds. I close the door, and with great delight rid myself of the cardboard casing.

It is nothing less than one of Radiohead's latest vinyl releases, the Supercollider/The Butcher single. Although the dark artwork is in line with their last full-blown album The King of Limbs, its content is surprisingly different. Supercollider takes us on a more than seven minute long (their longest track since Paranoid Android in 1997) journey through a wicked soundscape, which starts off with a simplistic electronic beat and bassline. It isn't long before equally eerie piano chords echo from a distance and slowly assume a more solid position in the mix. We are then seized by vocalist Thom Yorke, known for his distinctively fragile and haunting voice, setting off into obscure realms, questioning existential matters indirectly through his fragmented lyrical style, leaving the listener open to many different interpretations. On the other side of the record, we find The Butcher. Whereas Supercollider had seen the light several times in live performances since 2008, The Butcher is a completely new track exclusive to this release. There is a big emphasis on the marvellous rhythm section, combining both actual drums and electronic beats, and on top there are the regular Yorkisms being scattered throughout the track. It is a strong companion to Supercollider, despite being dissimilar in compositional aspect.

For many fans, Supercollider/The Butcher is not only a breath of fresh air, but it also reassures them that Radiohead still has it. Five months ago they once again divided their fanbase with the release of The King of Limbs. While many were yearning for another album drenched in emotion, The King of Limbs proved itself to be a short and humble anti-climactic album, driven by electronic beats and stale guitars, lacking outspoken passages and scarce in actual choruses. It most definitely has it's charms and their continuous departure in different musical directions is applaudable, but it's hard not to prefer the more dynamical Supercollider/The Butcher instead of the somewhat stagnant King of Limbs.

Feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations below.