Thom Yorke turns 52 on Wednesday, October 7, and while we all know him as the legendary frontman for Radiohead, have you heard of him being part of Atoms for Peace? A supergroup comprising of Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano), Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich (keyboards, synthesizers, guitars), drummer Joey Waronker of Beck and REM and percussionist Mauro Refosco. To celebrate Yorke’s special day, we want to showcase the famous maestro with some of his lesser-known works. Check out our top five Atoms for Peace songs on today’s Destination Jam playlist.
Read ‘How the Radiohead’s frontman’s experiments challenged music as we know it today’.
‘Before Your Very Eyes’
The lead track for ‘Amok’, the debut studio album by Atoms for Peace, ‘Before Your Very Eyes’ was released in 2013. If you have witnessed the infectious weirdness of Yorke and his music, wait till you see the music video. The ‘Before Your Very Eyes’ visual is directed by the visionary Andrew Thomas Huang who has helmed videos for artists such as Björk, Sigur Rós and FKA Twigs.
The music video begins with an undulating landscape to complement the dense percussion of the track, then a sepia-toned Yorke emerges from the mire with the exception of a large chunk of his upper skull. As the track elevates, multiple colors are bled into the dunes of the landscape. The whole affair is bizarre and enchanting and one of the many reasons to be captivated by Yorke’s creativity.
Move on to ‘Ingenue’ and Yorke’s genius is also found in simplicity.
After stepping in sync to the artsy, glitchy track, Yorke and a female double collapse to the floor together, then bounce back up to pull out some classic Yorke flails and shimmies. The weirdness of the dance moves can also be seen as a proverbial cousin to the video for Radiohead’s ‘Lotus Flower’.
Sonically, Genius gave an apt description for ‘Ingenue’: The song could be imagined to be sung to a personification of the universe/reality/nature itself, which he is regarding as an ingenue, innocent to the litanies of its complexities.”
After this song arrived in 2012, Yorke announced on the Radiohead website details of the song’s release, noting, “The first tune we’d like you to hear is Default. Like a freaky mesh of underground drum & bass and art-pop, although the “pop” description is better affiliated to the popping, high-end recorded percussive rather than the vibrancy of the aforementioned genre.
Yorke hauntingly whispers out ghostly vocals with lyrics like, “I’m still hanging on. Bird upon the wires. I fall between the waves. I avoid your gaze. I turn out of phase. A pawn into a queen.”
‘Judge Jury and Executioner’
Hit play on the below video and you’ll find Yorke hasn’t forgotten his love for creating a catchy groove. A cloudy bassline sweeps across a trippy rhythm. The track may appear melancholic at first, but as if eclipsed by subtle cockiness or long-embraced duality, what you are left with is a sense of swag. Perhaps more personalities are begging to be unraveled.
Like a 32-bit video game possessed by its own demons, the title track off their debut album, ‘Amok’ pulsates and hypnotizes at its own pace. The song resonates similar vocals to Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’ but carries drum machine hits that appear to avoid any conventional patterns and a synth melody that sounds like a glum bot. Mix in Yorke’s warped vocals and ‘Amok’ is an intriguing number that easily appeals to listeners who prefer darker sounds.
Listen to ‘Amok’ here.
Destination Jam is a daily list of songs that will keep you entertained and grooving up top in lieu of feeling drained and losing the plot. Look out for a fresh selection of great tunes from MEAWW to refresh your mood every day!