Atoms for Peace - Amok
Oblique Eraser-esque debut from supergroup featuring Thom Yorke, Flea and Nigel Godrich
Don’t let the jaunty, almost flamenco-styled bassline which opens the light crackle of electronic pop and fizz of ‘Before Your Very Eyes’ wrong-foot you, because here comes the man at the controls to rain on your parade. ‘Look out at the window / at what’s passing you by,’ breaks in Thom Yorke in that sad, neon-streaked croon-come-lament we know and are chilled by. The juxtaposition with a bassline played by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is a novelty at first, but Radiohead frontman Yorke soon asserts control of a side-project which is at least as immersed in his own eclectic tastes as his earlier solo album The Eraser.
Without knowing the specifics of the recording process, it’s easy to imagine Flea, esteemed drummer and producer Joey Waronker and sometime Brian Eno-collaborating percussionist Mauro Refosco laying down tracks and then leaving Yorke and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich to play around with them. The track ‘Stuck Together Pieces’ midway through best sums up this sensation, one of the most organic recordings here, with Flea’s bass underpinning what sounds like an atmospheric Stone Roses B-side instrumental.
Otherwise it’s often hard to hear where the musicians come in at all, with the pre-release track ‘Default’ and the sleek, ambient drum'n’bass of ‘Dropped’ sounding as if they were beamed in from Warp’s heyday. Yorke’s vocals are often hard to decipher, rarely willing to force their way to the forefront, content to skulk in the shadows of the nightmare modernist futurescape he’s crafted. ‘I know it’s useless / I couldn’t care less,’ he keens on ‘Unless’, while ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’ sees him concede with resignation ‘don’t worry baby / it goes right through me / I’m like the wind.’ It’s an impressive piece of work, albeit one which will make those involved’s traditional arena rock fans run screaming.