pondělí 21. února 2011

Radiohead - The King of Limbs (English)

A little strange title and absolutely unique cover artwork across whole discography prompted that group is in good shape and they're gonna present something really worth hearing. I immediately got limed and...I couldn't be less disappointed.

All visual accompaniment of the record is in the same spirit. Stanley Donwood, author of all Radiohead's artworks (except Pablo Honey) was inspired by Northern European fairy tales, especially their association with forests and woods. Then, together with Thom, he finished the idea of creatures with many limbs, ghosts so characteristic for forests.
Actually the whole album sounds like this to me. Introvert. Like lonesome walk through woods. As I walk I meet different kinds of spiritual existences and with them I wander among my thoughts and feelings.
If you expect big things, breaking down genres and massive experimentation from “The King of Limbs”, most probably you will be disappointed. After all, Radiohead's music for a last few years moves within strongly specific sound built on The Bends/Ok Computer/Kid A. Despite that, I wouldn't call the newcomer conservative even within band's discography. Rather I would say that it smartly benefits from previous records, mixes everything at different speed and adds other spice.
More complicated and constant melodic lines are almost totally gone, replaced by short repeating loops and percussion (/beats), which are at first few listens sort of casted together and hard to distinguish. However, underneath are hidden very interesting and engaging variations.
Many compare it to Kid A and Amnesiac. Although the musical side has nothing but Radioheadish base in common with these two, the atmosphere is quite similar, I'd say.
Radiohead don't draw all of their weapons at once. The song have few layers, many little sounds are hidden in the background, waiting for listener to discover them after few listens. Even if I dig deep in, I don't meet the bare bone. Every sound has its place, but not for price of academical tone.
That lack of attention very likely causes weak experience logically follows. The King of Limbs doesn't impose. It quietly follows its own trough and it is you who has to show interest the record deserves. Yet I can't generally say that every interested person gets to enter Radiohead's secret room. Similarly as in the past the album just needs its time, it will (on some more, on others less) grow. However I won't resist very hardly if someone finds the record boring. It definitely doesn't deserve castigation, but it won't (can't?) fit everybody's desires.
Thoughts almost bubble out of the head, discomfort caused by unknowing what could happen next is almost devastating, but Thom's vocals suggest that everything is in its right place. Amazingly chill-out, non-pandering, yet intense and depressive.
Many are off colour from record's short playing time. Of course, I would also like to hear some more, nevertheless I think it contains just enough music. It's playing and playing, I'm enjoying it very much, nodding my head, singing along, tapping feet and suddenly it ends. But I want more! Well what can I do? -> replay.
Moreover less count of songs disappoints at first, but at least to me it means more consistent enjoynment of the whole thing. By this I mean, that instead of not fully enjoying songs and waiting for my favorite tune which I remembered from first hearings at the expense of others, I relish the whole playing time.
Maybe it's also because the album is well balanced and smooth. It perfectly holds together. Based on Thom's former statement about releasing only singles and EPs, it would be shame to loose this. Songs work together and have consistent feeling, monotony is minimal. Anyway, I will understand, if some miss diversity of “In Rainbows”.
Darkish room, rather cold weather behind the window, headphones = perfect environment to maximally enjoy the record.
I think that Radiohead's music has never been about instrumentality, catchiness, complexity, experimentation and anything similar. Regardless of this their records dispose these aspects, which is though in my ears only product of attempts to truly express themselves. When I listen to Radiohead, my ears aren't connected to the brain. Will you find out what I absorb the sound with? A little hint – it's not genitals.

PS: To prevent misunderstanding, I better emphasize that stars under the post are meant to rate the article itself, not the album/film/whatever. If you want to express your opinion albout the record, you will have to say it. :-)

PS2: For the next two weeks you can also vote at the right site of the blog. The question "Má The King of Limbs 2. část" means in english: "Does The King of Limbs have the second part?" and the poll options are: "For sure", "I hope it does", "Probably not", "Definitely not".

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