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THOM YORKE - The Eraser   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Tuesday, 06 June 2006

If you love Radiohead, you’ll like this.

 

Not even the first member of Radiohead to make a solo record, Thom Yorke’sEraser” – a secret he has managed to keep brilliantly quiet until it was due to be released – is most definitely a Radiohead record in everything but personnel. If anything, you could call it “Kid B” : the mixture of Yorke’s detached, oblique vocals and the dark ambient musical stylings (which sound like a the spiritual successor to half of the Aphex Twin’sDrukqs’) create a oppressed, suburban atmosphere of the big city. And more.

This is Urban Music. Music for exhausted, scared commuters and bad tempered supermarket queues. Not Oxide & Neutrino, or 50 Cent, or whatever other rubbish that pumps out vaccously of loud stereos in white vans and boy racer cars and mobilephoneghettoblasters. But it’s more than just that : it’s paranoid. It’s the sound of people trapped in bunkers, not sure if the world has turned to a permanent nuclear winter, living on baked beans, staring through telescopes at wastelands.  Distended piano melodies that are reminiscent of ‘Life In A Glasshouse’ and lyrics that invoke the end times (“Atoms For Peace”, “The Clock”) , give us a clear image that Time Is Running Out.

 

Musically, it sounds as if it might be almost completely without human input : aside from Thom’s ghostly vocals, every sound could have come froma  computer. Drums rolls in the stuttering punctation of preprogrammed beats. Bass squelches as buttons are manipulated. And through it all, the vocal drifts uneasily : “this is fucked up.” “you’re only being nice to me because you want something”, and other tokens of paranoia sit in the air.

 

“The Eraser” also never overstays it’s welcome. In these CD/MP3-times, albums become 80, 100, 150 minutes long. Brevity is never a trait of themodern age. Too much information. Too much data. Flying from all sides. And in this, “The Eraser” is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. A curt 40 minute missive from a different world that looks just the same but is much more frightening. The eyes of fear and the ears of terror.

 

And it sounds just like a Radiohead record : a weird, perverse record made of the type of Radiohead songs that people who liked “The Bends” skip on their iPod : the ambient soundscrape of stuttering amchines, whirring noises, vague guitar and exhaustion. Maybe the adage is true : you can take the man from Radiohead, but not the Radiohead from the man. No matter what Thom does, it’ll still sound like Thom. That’s the curse of the voice and the benefit of personality. Wherever you go, you can never escape from yourself.

 

If you love Radiohead, you’ll like this. 

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