Release Date: Feb 26, 2013
Record label: XL
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
When did Thom Yorke start having so much fun? For more than a decade, we knew him as rock's greatest miserablist, the kind of guy who spends the whole party glaring at everyone while trying his hardest to disappear completely. But lately he's been reborn – spinning rare hip-hop at fashionable West Coast clubs, growing out a long-hair-don't-care ponytail and leading Radiohead ever closer to dance music you can actually dance to. Witnessing his loose-limbed shimmy across the stage on their most recent tour was sort of like watching Pinocchio become a real boy, then scarf down a fistful of MDMA.
Atoms For PeaceAMOK[XL; 2013]By Brendan Frank; February 27, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetDuring the Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich AMA on Reddit last week, Yorke was asked how he determines which of his songs are for Radiohead and which are for Atoms For Peace. He responded with the following: "Its a grey area. getting greyer.
If you've ever seen Radiohead live (or watched the "Lotus Flower" video), you're aware that Thom Yorke really likes to dance. But as opposed to graceful, purposeful movements, jerky gyrations and sudden twitches fill Yorke's dancing. AMOK, Yorke's first album with his supergroup Atoms for Peace, is the first full-length record that sounds like it was created with Thom Yorke's dancing in mind.
“We were at Flea’s house. We got wasted, played pool and listened to Fela Kuti all night,” said Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke in November last year about the recording of Atoms For Peace’s debut album. Few words will ever strike more terror into the hearts of people who’ve never forgiven Yorke for being in a band who’ve turned their back on writing bangers.
Thom Yorke's Atoms for Peace involves longtime Radiohead engineer/producer Nigel Godrich (Ultraísta) and bassist Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), as well as two session veterans in drummer Joey Waronker (R.E.M., Ultraísta) and percussionist Mauro Refosco (Forro in the Dark). For their first public performance, back in 2009, they performed Yorke's Godrich-assisted 2006 album The Eraser in its entirety, as well as some fresh material. Over three years later, they've come up with this, a product of jam sessions formed -- by Yorke and Godrich -- into a uniform nine-track album.
When word filtered through that Thom Yorke would be making a record with Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, the mind raced. Would Thom be swapping jittery, experimental rock for a funky extravangza about life in California? Would Flea be told to put down that bass guitar and concentrate on programming a synth pattern instead? Would we be subject to the sight of Thom Yorke wearing a sock where it really should never be worn? Unsurprisingly, the answer to all of the above is ‘no’. Although Atoms For Peace inevitably come hampered with the moniker of a ‘supergroup’ (as well as Yorke and Flea, the other band members are long-term Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Beck and REM collaborator Joey Waronker and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco), the closest template for Amok is that of Thom Yorke’s solo project The Eraser – even the band’s name comes from a track on that very solo album.
The headphone rhythms and queasy synths on Atoms’ debut sound a lot like Thom Yorke’s tightly wound 2006 solo album. That makes sense, since the band, which includes Flea and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, began as Yorke’s backing troupe. ”Ingenue” and ”Reverse Running” are heady pleasures, but Amok is missing the end-of-days urgency of Yorke’s paranoid-android persona — and despite Flea’s presence, it could be filed under ”anti-funk.” B .
When Thom Yorke put together Atoms for Peace to tour songs from The Eraser with him, blog posts, webzine comments and tweets all wondered where the band would go from there. Would Flea, Joey Waronker, Nigel Godrich and Mauro Refosco record an album with Radiohead’s front man or would they come together to play whatever music he recorded by himself? While the arrival of Amok seemed to signal the former, there’s an argument to be made for the latter. At first listen, the Atoms for Peace debut sounds like a Yorke album, not a band album.
On their debut album Amok, Atoms for Peace have managed to create a record approximately infinity times sexier than the combined output of the singer’s dayjob. It's important to remember here that their singer is Radiohead's Thom Yorke, and that Radiohead's music is really, really, really unsexy - certainly it would suggest some pretty outré appetites to claim the frosty Amok was sexy per se. But sexier? For sure.
Believing there’s a substantial difference between the sound of post-Amnesiac Radiohead and supergroup Atoms for Peace is tantamount to outright denial. Half of this band is Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich, after all, and assuming any collaboration from them will radically differ from Radiohead’s output over the past decade or so is as foolish as expecting a hypothetical Bono/Edge venture to sound like anything other than U2. Still, the inclusion of Flea, longtime Beck drummer Joey Waronker, and David Byrne percussionist Mauro Refosco once suggested something funkier at work.
The Eraser was Thom Yorke's attempt to liberate himself from the burden of being frontman for the most over-analyzed rock band in the world and explore more insular and austere forms of electronic production. Atoms for Peace is likewise his attempt to liberate himself from the burden of being Thom Yorke, shirking the added psychoanalytical interpretations that solo releases inevitably attract by receding into an all-star cast (complete with a name-- cribbed from a Dwight Eisenhower speech and subsequent program by way of an Eraser track-- that sounds like some one-off 1980s charity-single supergroup). From the similarly greyscale Stanley Donwood cover art on down, AMOK is essentially Yorke's follow-up to The Eraser, backed by the band that performed the album's songs during a handful of live dates over 2009-10: producer/multi-instrumentalist Nigel Godrich, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, David Byrne percussionist Mauro Refosco, and drummer Joey Waronker (a.
Atoms For PeaceAmokXL RecordingsRating: 3. 5 stars (out of 5)Album Stream: For those of you who aren’t aware, Atoms For Peace is a kind of supergroup side project spearheaded by Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke. For the past few years, the band, which also includes Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, drummer Joey Waronker, and percussionist Mauro Refosco, have been playing shows now and then to excite Yorke diehards and frustrate those who fear the interminable wait for another Radiohead album.
Amok is the much-heralded debut by Thom Yorke’s “supergroup” with Chili Peppers bassist Flea, but anybody expecting a funkier Radiohead or a dressed-down RHCP will be in for a surprise. Co-producer and sixth ’Head Nigel Godrich has likened the album’s assembly to the way Miles Davis and his studio right-hand man Teo Macero made their late 60s masterwork In A Silent Way; he and Yorke have also described it as an attempt to blur the lines between organic and electronic sound. In that respect, it’s a qualified success.
Most listeners instinctively know where they stand on the subject of latter-day Radiohead; on the advisability of Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, as a collaborator; on A-list drummers-for-hire like Joey Waronker (ex-Beck and REM; and of an Afrobeat-leaning supergroup in which all of the above feature, marching to the insectoid beats of their convenor, Thom Yorke. Actually, Yorke's second album away from Radiohead is surprisingly accessible for one so extensively jammed then spliced together by machines. The sound design is immaculate; the grooves palpable.
"Very insular" is how Thom Yorke, in his recent interview with RA, described the laptop-centric production process that birthed The Eraser, his 2006 solo debut. Yorke's approach to Amok, his new album with pseudo-solo project Atoms for Peace, was in many ways a reaction to all those hours spent hunched over a MacBook. Pieced together from feverish studio sessions with his Eraser live band, Amok would hopefully capture some of the spontaneity that Yorke lost in bedroom-producer mode, favoring rhythms and textures over meticulously crafted songs.In terms of production, Amok is everything The Eraser wasn't: it's spacious, sumptuous, even boisterous and funky at points.
Atoms for Peace is not a supergroup. Sure, it features big names like Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and superstar producer Nigel Godrich, but make no mistake - this is Thom Yorke's group. Named after a song on his 2006 solo debut, The Eraser, his new band picks up where that album left off. Yorke indulges his skewed, glitchy songcraft in ways that don't always gel with the contributions of his bandmates in Radiohead.
Thom Yorke might be the face, philosopher and shot-caller of Radiohead, but the mastermind is Jonny Greenwood. A listen to the hit-and-miss The Eraser or Yorke's spiritless Radiohead demos shows that the genius of the band's best songs comes from Greenwood's fertile mind. He adds the tempo changes, the instrumental flourishes and the chord changes that switch a song's direction and sends it down glorious, untraveled paths.
Radiohead in some senses feel like they’ve reached completion. Their journey to realization can be charted through each release, each era. In Rainbows saw them tempering out the weirder, agitated Kid A-through-Hail to the Thief era; and The King of Limbs was the beautiful coda, the compilation of Radiohead’s — or should I say Thom Yorke’s — struggle to define two inclusive subjects: identity and physicality.
When approaching a band's debut album, one should of course bear in mind the sage advice of George Michael and Listen Without Prejudice. Nevertheless the very facts of the making of Atoms for Peace's Amok seem designed to send a certain kind of music fan screaming from the room without hearing a note. It is, by any definition, the work of a supergroup: as well as Thom Yorke and long-term producer Nigel Godrich, it features Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, "guest percussionist" Mauro Refosco and REM's Joey Waronker.
Review Summary: “Thom Yorke????”In an ideal world, supergroups would be the manifestation of commercial music in its highest form – unstoppable shows of force sliding forth purposefully from one’s speakers, lending credence to the belief that the assembled musicians were meant to perform together all along. In real life however, they rarely exhibit what made us so excited about them in the first place, with the resultant records being merely passable or easily forgettable – which is precisely the category that the Thom Yorke-led Atoms for Peace find themselves falling into on their debut studio outing. If there's a defining theme to Amok, it's that it rarely escapes sounding like a solo record from the Radiohead frontman.
In the two decades since the release of Pablo Honey, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has undergone several media characterizations. The arc might be described as a movement from angst to alienation to political indignation to bowler hat and tank-top wearing lord of the dance. Only those close to the man could say whether his actual personality has changed as much over the years.
A lone rat scurries about on a floating piece of driftwood. A melting palm tree slumps towards its inevitable fall near Crossroads of the World. A passenger’s struggling hands materialize on the backseat window of a sinking wagon. A lost traveler clutches the bow of his dinghy, while an ominous hooded seaman navigates at ease nearby.
After their release to the world, back in 2009, Atoms for Peace have been steadfast in growing their sound together, as any band would enjoy. Thom Yorke is always going to be solidified within Radiohead, but he did release an excellent solo album with The Eraser and now, with Atoms for Peace, Yorke works with immensely gifted musicians for another masterful album outside the Radiohead cannon: Amok. With Flea on bass, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker and Brazilian instrumentalist Mauro Refosco, Atoms for Peace were always much more than the “????????” billing they received at Coachella all those years back.
Of all of the entertainment figures that I idolized growing up (Scrooge McDuck, Stuart Murdoch, Mr. Feeny, etc.) Thom Yorke probably had the most substantive impact. Radiohead informed my entry into the world of rock music and Yorke, in particular, was a constant point of fixation. In my mind he was an odd, insular genius with a droopy eye.
Amok, the debut full-length from Atoms For Peace, is all about musical connections. As the tracks unfold with limitless direction, an attitude of “Let’s see what happens” prevails, which sees overworked electronic beats mixed up with textural intricacies. Thom Yorke’s side project with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, drummer Joey Waronker (R.E.M., Elliott Smith, Beck) and percussionist Mauro Refosco, the band was first pulled together to support Yorke’s 2006 solo album, The Eraser.
ATOMS FOR PEACE “Amok” (XL) The groove is paramount on “Amok,” the first album by Atoms for Peace. It’s the band Thom Yorke of Radiohead put together in 2009 to perform songs from his 2006 solo album, “The Eraser,” bringing together Radiohead’s producer, Nigel Godrich, with a Los Angeles rhythm section: Flea, the bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers; the widely recorded studio drummer Joey Waronker; and the Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco, who has toured with the Chili Peppers. Onstage they made the austere arrangements of “The Eraser” kick like dance music.
It’s been 17 years since I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They were the first band I ever saw live, something that in retrospect seems increasingly like abuse, and we were seated high at the edges of Wembley Arena, the stage somewhere below an abstract concept more imagined than seen. Only one real image remains, of Flea wearing nothing but a nappy as he flailed about the stage, spotlights trained upon the glistened skin and the tight-bound cloth as everybody around laughed and laughed and laughed.
When you find out how the debut - and possible standalone - record from Atoms For Peace (the project of Thom Yorke and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, alongside Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco) came about, you begin to see it in a different light. What might be dismissed as a re-hashed version of Yorke’s ‘The Eraser’ album soon develops into its own being. There are obvious connections between ‘Amok’ and the album that helped initially tie down all these musicians to tour together.
A super-group of millionaires. Side-project of the singer of a band who recently played the O2 for 70 quid a head. Flea. Topless, topless Flea. There are indeed several reasons why the prospect of AMOK might fill you with dread, but it probably shouldn't. Thom Yorke does sing the word “baby.
Radiohead frontman remains instantly recognisable despite electronic disguise. Wyndham Wallace 2013 A supergroup they may ostensibly be, but it’s hard to shake the impression that – despite the presence of Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, regular Beck drummer Joey Waronker and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco – in reality Amok is the second chapter in Thom Yorke’s solo career. It’s hard, too, to avoid comparing Amok with Radiohead, given Yorke’s distinctive voice and talent for an unusual tune, both of which remain central to his new project.
Thom Yorke broke from Radiohead for 2006's The Eraser, a haunting solo album of fractured beats, glitchy ballads, and unsettling paranoia. Named after a Dwight Eisenhower speech, Atoms for Peace – Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, studio drummer Joey Waronker, Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco, and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich – began as Yorke's backing band for the subsequent 2009 tour. The group's long-awaited debut adds some lifeblood to The Eraser's digital pulse, Amok sounding like an album that was recorded, deconstructed, and pieced back together, then processed and remixed.
I once heard former CMG-writer David Greenwald succinctly answer the question “What is shoegaze?” by saying, “Something that sounds like My Bloody Valentine. ” The answer is far from all-encompassing, but it’s still useful because for anyone who, say, reads music reviews for fun, it basically answers the question. Similarly, you can answer the question “What happened in indie rock in the last fifteen years?” with “What Radiohead did.