Amok, Thom Yorke’s second solo record has emerged. The short verdict: claustrophobic, murky, and engrossing.
Let’s not forget Snr. Yorke’s strong suits, all of which are in full effect on Amok. He has that unique ability to make any series of four or five words into a verse, chorus, or whatever he chooses. (“sooner or later“, “you don’t get away so easily“, “penny for your thoughts“, etc.).
His other great contribution is that of a boatman. Like Charon shuttles souls to hell, Yorke takes bits from outsider musical genres and ferries them into his slightly more mainstream sound. At times, it makes his solo work seem more edited than composed. Most electronica (and subsequent sub-genres) wear on me, they sound more academic than aurally pleasing, however Yorke can take small elements of fringe genres and create a distinct style that’s easily identifiable as Thom York solo (ala his first album The Eraser). Though he fleshed out his operational personnel this time with some extra players (Flea, uber-producer Goodrich) the results sound very similar to the first go round.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Amok, it sounds great. But I do have to say, more than anything, it makes me want another Radiohead album. As a band, they can change the sonic palette of the sounds they work with so much more effectively and gloriously, it makes Amok sound rather monochromatic.
A good example of this dichotomy was Yorke’s sorta-solo 12-inch “Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses / The Hollow Earth” back in 2009. “Hollow Earth” is a typical sounding, semi-skittering Eraser leftover, (which does contain the great lyric “throwing firecrackers, and dancing“). However “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses” is genius. It’s a roving, dub-infected, super-effected lopsided riff. “Horses” is basically Thom and Johnny Greenwood goofing around. My point is, if this is what he tosses off with only one member of Radiohead, why keep the others away?
But hey, he’s gotta make the solo album, I dig it. Even if it’s just an excuse for Stanley Donwood’s incredible cover art, and more of Thom’s incredible dancing, I’m all for it……..
* The featured image is from the extra booklet tucked under the CDtray of Kid A, so I guess this Amok theme has been around for a while……