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Thom Yorke - The Eraser CD (album) cover


Thom Yorke

Crossover Prog

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3 stars The first solo album by RADIOHEAD's primary spokesperson was cut from the same high-tech cloth as his band's post "OK Computer" efforts, with lots of electronic blips and squeaks and lacking the reassurance of a genuine rhythm section. Perhaps not surprisingly, it sounds very much like a package of homemade demos for a never produced Radiohead album, and as such offers a valuable peek into the creative gears of that (rightfully) praised group (guitarist Jonny Greenwood's atmospheric chamber- orchestra soundtrack to the film "There Will Be Blood" is another missing link in the same aesthetic chain).

The too-slim 41-minute running time (barely album length in a digital age) includes at least one potential classic: "Analyse", easily the most overtly Radiohead-like song of the entire set. It could have been an outtake from the "Kid A" or "Amnesiac" sessions, and thus from my not unbiased perspective is the best thing here.

Elsewhere the album presents a brace of post-modern ballads for our wired new millennium, showing what a single motivated artist with a laptop is capable of. Bandmate Jonny Greenwood is on hand for support, but only on piano; Yorke himself is otherwise given credit for 'all instruments and programming'. But of course these days the programs 'are' the instruments.

The results aren't entirely as antiseptic as you might expect, however. The singer's quavering voice provides a welcome human touchstone in what can sometimes seem like a sterile technological experience. Listen for example to the song "Atoms For Peace", and tell me he doesn't remind you of Joni Mitchell: an odd comparison maybe, but not an unflattering one (I hope).

Bottom line: it's a valuable windfall to latter-day Radiohead fans starved for new material, and a worthwhile diversion for students of electronic music who might have been wondering about the legacy of Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider.

Report this review (#214267)
Posted Thursday, May 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm apparently in the minority, but I believe THE ERASER to be superior to the fine but over- rated IN RAINBOWS CD. (Apparently Kanye West also believes this, according to reports.) Yorke was working on both simultaneously, and for me his heart was clearly in this, his first solo album. I think that time will treat this album much kinder than RAINBOWS (which contains one masterpiece, "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi," but is otherwise not on par with past efforts by Radiohead).

THE ERASER picks up where KID A, AMNESIAC, and HAIL TO THE THIEF left off (although it's more cohesive than HTTT). The opening track "The Eraser" is nearly as compelling a beginning as KID A's "Everything In Its Right Place." The second track, "Analyse," is a grower. (Thom did a stunning solo keyboard version for XFM Radio, which can be found on Youtube, and which sounds remarkably like Cliff Martinez's marvelous score for the 2002 film version of 'Solaris'.) Next track "The Clock" is sonically beautiful, and reminds me a lot of Icelandic electronic band Mum's classic "Smell Memory." (Surely this was an influence on Yorke.) The best song might be "Harrowdown Hill," about David Kelly, a British UN weapons inspector in Iraq who mysteriously died days after testifying to Parliament that the Bush-Blair governments were fabricating evidence about weapons in Iraq. In fact, this album is obviously a passionate and angry album, which lends an immediacy to Thom's voice.

I know most won't agree, but to me these songs are better than anything than on IN RAINBOWS, besides the aforementioned "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi." While IN RAINBOWS found the band retreating from the electronica experiments the band had earlier pioneered, THE ERASER delves further into this realm.

BTW, fans of this album should check out German electronic band Modeselektor's album HAPPY BIRTHDAY, released around the same time, which contains the song "The White Flash" featuring Yorke on vocals. It's another Yorke masterpiece in the same vein as THE ERASER.

Report this review (#249888)
Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Basically, if you like the trippy, electronic Radiohead sound from albums like King of Limbs, then you'll like this album. If not, there's really no need to bother, but it actually is a very strong effort. It would be easy for The Eraser to have turned out as a sort of Radiohead B-material collection, but it manages to branch away from doing so. The music feels very personal and even spiritual for most of the album. Thom's first solo album is essential for a Radiohead fan, and can be enjoyed by anyone else. Thom's first solo album is essential for a Radiohead fan, and can be enjoyed by anyone else.

Rating: 7/10

Report this review (#490890)
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011 | Review Permalink

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