A review on first impressions.

Starting with an echoing, synthetic, breathy swirl in Everything in it's right place, you are prepared for the extra bass and beats unlies the new albumn.

The child like nursery tune that carrys Kid A is almost swallowed by the heavy electronic treatment of Thom Yorke's voice and artifical drum beats, but still hugs the ear. A period of just drum and bass appears towards the end of the track, with strings hovering on the outskirts.

National anthem starts with a heavy bass, coated with rising and falling synth. Feedback abounds, along with what feels like random notes. As York's voice drawls into silence, jazz appears. Saxophones and muted trumpets play and scream over the continuing base line, with vocals fighting to be heard.

How to disappear completely quietens down, with vocals simply backed up by guitars and piano, eventually swollen by simple percussion and strings.

Treefingers comes over as a ambient, slow Cocteau Twins track. Electric based without much movement and no vocals.

Optimisitic reintroduces heavy guitar work, with a obvious riff and beat twisting throughout the track. A slight reminder of Karma Police comes through.

In limbo pushes out bass with vocals muttered. As Yorke's voice raises the bass and echo rise with it, sounding like a self indulgant competition. As the track ends it is hard to tell which layer has won.

Idioteque begins like an 80s New Romantic synth driven tune, and sounds heavily influenced by Talk Talk

Morning bell plays with quiet feedback and beats, interpersed with rising guitars over vocals. It feels like listening through a smoke filled haze.

Motion picture soundtrack leads with organ music, feeling almost religous, a feeling backed up by harps and backing choir.

Whilst not up to the standard of OK Computer, there does not seem to be a Karma Police or Paranoid Andriod, it is worth buying to be swamped by the music as you sit in the darkness, chain smoking, contemplating life. This should not, in my opinion, be your first Radiohead CD.

Comes out today.

I've heard this. At first, No Sir, I didn't like it., but I just listened, really listened, to it two times through, and I need this album. I feel like crying.

The first time I heard this, I thought there would be some cool guitar parts, there isn't, really. It's not nearly as guitar-based as OK Computer, matter of fact, the track Optimistic is the only one that has a solid guitar feel. How To Disappear Completely has some simple guitar stuff there, too, in a rhythm capacity. This is not a bad thing. I just noticed because I play guitar.

This is the kind of album that's totally screwed up, but wonderful. While Thorke's voice is kinda of hard to understand for me, what I can understand is amazing, and the song titles (How to Disappear Completely) are brilliant as well.

However: This is going to probably going to be praised by critics, and no-one will buy the record. I hope I'm wrong. I know I want to buy it. I don't know, but every album like this that comes out and flops commercially gets me depressed. I know commerical success is not the end-all, but each "good" album that flops means soneone in the industry is thinking that these kind of records aren't a good thing. I know, check out indy labels, etc. Still, I mean, I can have fun, but I need new music that's serious about what it's saying, and not just trying to ride whatever's hot.

There are two versions of the packaging for the CD version of this album. One is the standard CD Jewel Case arrangement. The second is packaged in a cardboard storybook thing, a couple inches wider and taller than the jewel case. At Newbury Comics, the normal version is selling for $11.88 (standard Newbury Comics new release price), while the storybook is $19.99.

I bought the normal version, and was pleased to find some Semi-Hidden Secret Fun! Underneath the black plastic CD holder you'll find a little booklet with the lyrics, done with typically strange Radiohead art and lettering:

IVE LOST MY WAY  WASHED OUT TO SEA  IM LOST AT SEA
COME BACK TO ME  COME  BACK  TO ME  DONT BOTHER ME


I    S  L  I  P    A  W  A  Y
I SLIPPED ON A LITTLE WHITE LIE
WE'VE GOT HEADS ON STICKS
YOU'VE GOT VENTRILOQUISTS

along with pictures of monkey heads on dinner plates and telephones and so on. Yay!

Sadly it seems that the newer copies of Kid A do not contain the lyrics booklet under the disc holder. Lucky for you, dear reader, the Internet has come to your rescue. Images of the booklet can be found here:
http://www.more-radiohead.com/bklt.html

Thanks to thax for the heads-up on the booklet

"Not ten songs, but one piece of music in ten parts" is how a band member apparently described this album. Very anti-commercial, almost the only song which sounds like a possible single is track 4, but in fact no singles or videos will be released for any track.

An interesting piece of trivia which I heard is that the title of the album, "Kid A", is Thom Yorke's name for the first human clone, to whom he dedicates the album. In his opinion, Kid A is already alive somewhere.

As for the surprising change in Radiohead's style: apparently sixteen more traditional Radiohead songs were recorded during the Kid A sessions, and they will be released in the coming months on 12-inch vinyl. Now I have to buy a damn record player.

Ever since the 1995 release of The Bends, British band Radiohead has been one of the most innovative groups in alternative rock. While their first album, Pablo Honey, only hinted at their talent, their next two records, The Bends and OK Computer are regarded as two of the best albums of the 90’s. Radiohead’s 2000 release, Kid A, is a monumental departure from the band’s previously guitar and vocals driven music. While they dabbled in electronica on OK Computer, the album was still driven by frontman Thom Yorke’s signature vocals and the guitar playing of Thom, Jonny Greenwood, and Ed O’Brien. On Kid A, neither Thom’s vocals nor the band’s usual guitars appear in an easily recognizable form until the fourth track. The complex, layered composition of Kid A makes it a record that demands several listens in order to be fully appreciated. Although it does not provide quite as much depth as OK Computer, which grew more impressive with each listen while still being accessible at first, Kid A heralds a new age for both the band and all alternative music.

Even before pressing play, one can easily see that Kid A is a unique album. Its liner notes (which any music fan examines as soon as he purchases the album) do not contain the usual lyrics, pictures of the band, or song commentary. Instead, they are full of an unsettling mixture of surrealist art. Pixelated, jagged splashes of color and disjointed images adorn the pages, while special translucent paper inserts and numerous fold-out sections attest to the enormous artistic effort that went into the creation of this album. Once this has awed the fan, a check behind the case reveals another hidden booklet of sketches and a bizarre assortment of what at first appears to be lyrics. However, only the lyrics of the album’s title track can be found in the booklet; the rest is an unnerving mess of words and phrases that serve as an emotional subtext for the record.

The band also decided to forego nearly all forms of publicity for the release; there were no singles, no videos, and no tours to promote the album. Instead, the band released numerous “blips” over the internet and television. These blips consisted of short snippets of the new music coupled with video and animations related to the mysterious contents of the CD’s booklets and the record’s enigmatic concept. Thom Yorke has several times said that the album is dedicated to “the first human clone,” whom he believes already lives. Thom has also stated that the album is based on his theory of a new stage of evolution for the human race.

Despite all the mystery surrounding the album, it is the music that truly matters, and that part of the record is amazing. While definitely a departure from the group’s usual sound, the music still manages to sound uniquely Radiohead. It is actually rather apparent why the band neglected to release singles for the album: this is one record that is much, much more than the mere sum of its parts. The emotional effect of becomes much more apparent thorough the interplay of the dynamic, multi-layered songs.

Kid A opens with the song “Everything in it’s Right Place,” but Thom’s digitally tortured vocals and frantic gasps for breath give the impression that something is terribly, terribly wrong. Next comes “Kid A,” the most electronica influenced song on the CD, in which Thom’s voice is so distorted that the hidden booklet is needed to decipher many of his lyrics. The pounding bass line and blaring horn improvisational on “The National Anthem” add a startling accent to Thom’s even more frenzied vocals. Cut to the quiet contrast of “How to Disappear Completely,” in which Thom’s more conventional singing and a recognizable guitar part lull the listener into the all too human fantasy of leaving one’s troubles and disappearing forever. The song “Treefingers” is Radiohead’s first instrumental composition, and while it sounds completely synthesized, all of its dreamy, ethereal sounds are made through skillful manipulation of the guitar.

On “Optimistic,” the most “catchy” song on the record, the guitars come into full swing, having been either distorted into obscurity or kept quiet for the first half of the record. “In Limbo” is another dream-like, floating piece, which segues into the stunning dance-like beat of “Idioteque.” The song’s title may refer to the fact that is almost a parody of dance music, or the song’s lyrics, which allude to apocalypse and the futility of nuclear warfare.

Morning Bell” is another enigmatic song. While critics and listeners have most often thought of it as a “break-up song,” with its lyrics such as “you can keep the furniture” and “cut the kids in half.” Thom, however, attests that it is the true account of a ghost who inhabited a house he used to live in, until it was exorcised by the removal of the house’s plaster walls, in which the ghost was apparently imprisoned. The lyrics, however, seem to support either interpretation, leaving one guessing as to what Thom is talking about. The last song on Kid A is the heavenly sounding “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” with its organ music and angelic harps.

While some listeners will be initially put off by the record’s unconventional sound, it is an exciting excursion into new territory for Radiohead, and hints of truly amazing things to come.

Nearly a year after it's initial release, Radiohead fansite message boards were buzzing with some new information about Kid A. People had found out that with two copies of the album you could overlap the tracks seventeen seconds into each other and they would flow together perfectly. This was quickly dubbed "Kid 17" and a legend was born.

This generally works well with every song on the album, but sounds particularly cool with tracks like Everything In It’s Right Place, Kid A (the song), or Idioteque; tracks that have a lot of different sounds and such. Kid 17 definitely adds a whole new dimension to album and is worth a listen.

You can go about executing Kid 17 in a few ways.

  1. The easiest way is with a WAV editor or any other sound editing program that will allow you to "mix paste" or to overlap songs. I've used Cool Edit to do this and it works really well.
  2. Another way, still on the computer, is to have two MP3 players going at the same time. It's a little bit harder to get everything timed correctly this way, but I've seen it done with Winamp a few times.
  3. The most difficult way is with two real copies of Kid A. If you have any two sound systems (cd player, boombox, TV, computer with speakers, whatever) you can set them up and play your two copies of Kid A on them. The best way to do this is with two CD players, but even then it's sometimes hard to get it right.

If you want to take the cheap way out MP3 files of Kid 17 can still be found on various filesharing programs like Soulseek and Kazaa. But for those of you who want to try it out on your own here are a few tips to get yourself going.

  • Don't sync up the album, sync up individual songs. After one song is over, hit stop and start another song freshly.
  • Some timing might be off on your record, whether it's because of silence before tracks or scratches or something like that.
  • If it starts to sound horrible stop and try again. You need patience to get the songs playing together at the same time.

Enjoy.

Nobody likes nothing. I certainly wish with all my heart that it did not exist.

But wishing is not enough. We live in the real world where nothing does exist. We cannot just disinvent it.

Nothing is not comprehensible. Neither you nor I have any hope of understanding just what it is and what it does.

It is hard to know of nothing is actually nothing, and thus difficult to know if a policy of doing nothing is successful.

Nothing, however effective it may have proved up to the present, can hardly continue to do so indefinitely.

If I had to choose between the continued possibility of nothing happening, and of doing nothing, I would unquestionably choose the latter.

 

 

Or the former.

 

-Radiohead's Kid A, Limited Edition book

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