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Thom Yorke - Atoms for Peace: Amok CD (album) cover

ATOMS FOR PEACE: AMOK

Thom Yorke

 

Crossover Prog

3.17 | 23 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

jude111
2 stars After releasing the brilliant and criminally underrated The Eraser in 2006, which largely consisted of music put together on his laptop, Yorke put together a band to tour this album. Longtime Radiohead producer and collaborator Nigel Godrich and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea were among those recruited. They managed to play for something like a year without a name; finally, Yorke christened them "Atoms for Peace," named after one of the tracks on The Eraser CD. While I wasn't able to catch any of their shows live, the stuff that I've managed to hear (via Youtube and other less reputable sources) are just amazing. As much as I love The Eraser, the live performances are arguably even better. Truly, at some point Yorke needs to release an official CD and DVD of their amazing performances.

What we get in the interim is this. Released under the moniker "Atoms for Peace" (no one is fooled, this is a Yorke album through and through, with, as usual, Godrich's considerable imput), Amok's recording history is rather interesting, and can be thought of as experimental: At some point a year or two a go, the "band" went into the studio and simply jammed for a few days. Yorke took the tapes home, and with his computer basically went to town on the recordings. So far, so good. Sounds like a great way to make an album. Miles Davis and his producer Teo Macero did something similar, and they came up with "Bitches Brew."

Unfortunately, unlike The Eraser, Amok simply doesn't have the tunes. I've been listening for a week now, and still there's nothing for me to grab on to, no melody I can hum, nothing I can sing along with, no lyrics that jump out, no melodies burning their way in. Sure it has its moments, - for example, the beginning of "Ingenue" and the end of "Reverse Running" are rather gorgeous-sounding - but overall the album isn't compelling, the songs don't seem to go anywhere, and lack the kind of urgency Yorke usually brings. I don't want to give the wrong impression: the album is amazing sonically. Often here though I get the feeling Yorke's voice is more a hindrance to the sound, and some of these tracks would sound better as instrumentals. (Perhaps I need to accept the album for what it is, rather than what it isn't, and when I stop resisting, I'll come to terms with it and appreciate it.)

After the rather disappointing King of Limbs from 2011, I had high hopes for this album. But that album is looking pretty good now, when set alongside this. Who knows, after time I might revise my opinion and look upon it more favorably. For now, however, it's highly underwhelming, and one of my biggest disappointments in recent memory from any band I can think of. I'll keep trying, because I'm convinced of Thom's genius, I *want* to love this album, and I know he has a lot of great work left in him.

jude111 | 2/5 |

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