Song of the Week (9/21-9/27/14):
Thom Yorke, “Mother Lode”
a long rant on technology, and a review
What a week it has been for fans of Radiohead; First, enigmatic frontman, Thom Yorke posted mysterious photographs of unused artwork, and lyric sheets, made by him and Stanley Donwood, known collectively as “The White Chocolate Farm,” or Dr. Tchock for short. (The Post also announced that Radiohead have been recording overdubs for a future release, possibly their ninth studio album. but more on that later.) Next, he posted a photo of a mysterious white vinyl record, with a blank white label fixed to it, suggesting a new release was imminent. Finally, when Friday arrived, Yorke delighted fans with the release of a new solo record, Tomorrows Modern Boxes, and a new music video for opening track “Brain in a Bottle.”
The release was anything but conventional; instead of releasing it digitally, via W.A.S.T.E. central, the usual outlet for Radiohead, and Yorke related material, fans were instead directed to, of all places, bittorrent's new website, Bittorrent bundles. Bittorrent is obviously best known as the best and easiest way to steal music (and other file types, for that matter.) However, Yorke intends to change this for the better. In a statement by him and Producer Nigel Godrich, Yorke said the following:
“As an experiment we are using a new version of BitTorrent to distribute a new Thom Yorke record.
The new Torrent files have a pay gate to access a bundle of files..
The files can be anything, but in this case is an 'album'.
It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around ...
If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.
Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves.
Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers.
If it works anyone can do this exactly as we have done.
The torrent mechanism does not require any server uploading or hosting costs or ‘cloud’ malarkey.
It's a self-contained embeddable shop front...
The network not only carries the traffic, it also hosts the file. The file is in the network.
Oh yes and it's called
Tomorrow's Modern Boxes.
Thom Yorke & Nigel Godrich”
Seeing Yorke and Godrich’s recent criticisms of internet streaming services, and his previous release strategies with Radiohead, this should not come as a surprise.
Yorke is obviously at a point in his career where he can do as he well pleases;
freed from the clutches of EMI nearly a decade ago, he and co. have been on various indie labels, and can choose when and where they release his/their music. Yorke is also open to technological advances, and this time he is at the forefront of this one. (forget whatever the fuck Bono is doing with apple, this is the real deal, man!)
Right, so, onto the music. One of the best tracks on the record is undoubtedly “The Mother Lode,” a sparse piano ballad/post-rock slow burner, with a little IDM thrown in for good measure. An Eerie baby grand slowly begins playing, followed by a drum sample, and finally Yorkes Inimitable vocals come in to the mix. This is the “Pyramid Song,” the “Backdrifts,” the “Videotape,” and the “Codex” of the record all in one. It is also one of Yorke’s finest compositions to date. The Contrasting vocal melodies and drum loops make the track alluring, yet irresistible. His best recording since in Rainbows, this the work of a true genius sonic landscaper.