Atoms for Peace | Amok | Rating: 8/11 | Reviewed by: Rodney Schmidt |
Drum machines getting trampled on with callused finger tips, low monotone voices rumbling in an empty warehouse that send the mind into a dizzying high, and nothing but waves of vibrations hovering through the air as synthesizers and guitars play their soul maddening tunes. Artistic wonder is the only sound present as the loops play throughout each song and the band Atoms for Peace paint their portrait of dark indie-electronic beats that send a soothing sound in our ears and eventually into our mind where it creates a rabid mad man within our psyche.
Radiohead front man Thom Yorke is the creator behind this artistic endeavor. He has helped to create a record that is filled with repetition of an obsessive sound and analog that can seem maddening to the man in a padded cell, but to the rest of us, it’s just another melodious sound that Yorke is well known for creating. The record consists of spastic arm flailing beats, sounds of the future, and solid guitar hooks that will leave your eyes squinted with an un-comprehendible look. The emanate feeling that the electric Kool-Aid was drank during the production of this record will create a contact high for the listeners. Ultimately, the sound is a lot like Yorke’s very popular solo album, The Eraser, from 2006.
Atoms for Peace is packed with familiar talent like Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joey Waronker from Beck and R.E.M., Mauro Refosco from Forro in the Dark, and producer Nigel Godrich who has a rich music producing history with Radiohead. All these acts have different platforms they stand on when it comes to music style, like funk, folk, and country to name off a few, yet these separate entities have managed to incorporate their different stances on music into one electronic art record.
There are defiantly catchy songs on Amok. Songs like “Ingenue” that have a really fascinating sound to it, with an all too ordinary loss of innocence, loss of interest, and fear of ultimate death that is creeping around the corner. It starts out with a nice 1980’s sounding synthesizer, possibly something people might remember from the original 21 Jump Street show when main character Johnny Depp was sleuthing through the streets. Then, it quickly turns into a new age soundtrack of tropical rain forest frogs mating in the jungle. It sounds strange, but it actually goes really well. Crazy lines like “The seeds of the dandelion you blow away / In good time, I hope and I pray,” add interest into the strange sounds within the song providing a very nice story. And the beat is on the path for some re-mixing that will be undoubtedly club approved.
“Dropped” is another great sounding track on the record. The song seems like it is going to break out into a dub step explosion, but instead, it continues to be a haze of loops, slapping of piano keys, and a dazed Yorke getting trapped inside the music with his dramatic humming. The same humming listeners will recognize from many Radiohead records. The song may sound like a stale idea, and in reality it is, but it has to be appreciated for its aesthetic purpose. It has this feel that makes music creators and music lovers know that what was created was a piece of art and this art was created with great care. Not to give too much credit, but Yorke, Flea, Refosco, and Godrich are craftsmen, and when they create something like this, it feels really genuine. It is the classic idea of doing something because you love it, not because the checks in the mail.
The sound is relaxing and calming through-out Amok‘s entirety. It has that familiar sound that all fans will recognize, but at the same time fans will be happy that he continues to produce pleasing sounds. When Yorke is playing with his main band, Radiohead, lyrics of angst, frustration, political ideals and so on are often expected from the band; however, when Yorke does his different acts, like Atoms For Peace, the lyrics are irrelevant to what is going on in the music. Not because the lyrics make no sense, but because acts like Atoms for Peace seems more like a score of music instead of a rock band. Hell, half of the words being said are hummed or mumbled by Yorke, so the need for any really artistic writing is useless. All in all, the record is good, fun to listen to, and worth the purchase.