Music » Livewire


With the Beta Band and Kid Koala. Wednesday, August 8, at Blossom.


Canonized for its first three albums, Britain's Radiohead turned down the guitars on Kid A and Amnesiac to wield Rhodes keyboards, drum machines, and the electronic black magic of Pro Tools. The two records, which have been revered as much as they have been rebuked, deconstructed the experience of mainstream music. The albums, both of which were recorded in the same session, compare to the spliced and diced sounds you'll find in the work of innovators such as Richard D. James, Charles Mingus, Neu!, and Boards of Canada. Though by no means unique, they're brilliant and radical. For its show, Radiohead has assembled a list of 21 songs that feature drum machines ("Idioteque"), morphed vocals ("Kid A"), and crackling machinery ("Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors"). But wound within these electronic orchestrations are seething horns ("The National Anthem"), a drunken brass band ("Life in a Glass House"), and haunting string arrangements ("Pyramid Song") that humanize and bring the machines to life. Yet nothing is more dazzling than frontman Thom Yorke's high-pitched wail, which has evolved into the band's most dynamic instrument. Shouldering a legacy of rock, electronica, and prog influences, Radiohead has exposed the eccentric underbelly of music to the pop limelight. In concert, the high production of Radiohead's albums are accurately rebuilt with live guitars, drums, and celestial vocals that only augment the band's reputation as the best of its generation.

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