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Review: Atoms For Peace, 'AMOK'
Thom Yorke's supercrew of sticksmen makes for a complex listening experience
Atoms For Peace is the project name for Thom Yorke’s full band when he’s gone solo, and structurally the album “AMOK” shows he’s still its leader. For it, the Radiohead frontman assembled a mighty drum circle.
Nigel Godrich, Flea, Joey Waronker, Mauro Refosco and Yorke beat, tap, hum and stir their way through a mere nine songs for the album, which feels further abbreviated by it’s ultra-tidy sound. Every tapestry of rhythm churns at a similar clip, with small and short programmed drum sounds rarely stepping in the way of Yorke's falsetto and protracted vowels.
“Judge, Jury, Executioner,” one of the first songs farmed out from “AMOK,” still remains one of its highlights, in its odd time signature and recognizable, daunting chorus. Textural “Dropped” is a jaw-dropping array of punctuated rhythms and counter-rhythms, making it a dream for headphone listening; “Reverse Running” is similar, like a case-study in the use of panning and intricacies in stereo.
As expertly as the album’s played, there’s still the curse of over-thinking, when the attention to detail overpowers the longing for a lush, completed song. “Stuck Together Pieces” is one example of this, in that even its name implies useable segments merely glued together. Every time I hear “Unless,” I’ve forgotten I’ve even heard it before, and I then forget again.
Still, for fans of “Erase,” this will satisfy in layers, through first listens and repeated. These complex, highly detailed tracks may be skeletal at times, but intoxicating nonetheless.