Review by Joe Hallsworth
‘Amok’ is the debut album from Thom Yorke’s star-studded Atoms for Peace project that includes Nigel Godrich, Flea, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco amongst its members. The band initially formed to perform songs from Yorke’s ‘The Eraser‘ but it soon began to emerge that they were going to compose new material as a unit. Although ‘Amok’ is not purely a collection of compositions from Thom Yorke alone, like The Eraser was before it, it makes sense to observe this as the evolution of Yorke’s solo venture given the nature of the band’s formation.
In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine Yorke shed some light on the writingand recording process: “We were at Flea’s house. We got wasted, played pool andlistened to Fela Kuti all night.” With this in mind the influence that Fela Kuti, and the Afrobeat movement that he is synonymous with, is instantly recognisable. ‘Before Your Very Eyes’ incorporates Kuti-like syncopated and sharp guitar lines with restless rhythms that sprawls into a busily layered and hard-hitting opener.
The glitchy yet chilled electronica that was hinted at on Radiohead’s ‘Feral’ is evident throughout and manages to calm yet unnerve the listener simultaneously. Although ‘Amok’ does not hit the same kind of heights of electronica that is evident in Radiohead’s Kid A, the second half of the album provides sincere and focused songs that successfully blur the computer-processed areas and the more human areas. The smooth and flowing guitar and bass lines in the midst of claustrophobic processed beats in ‘Stuck Together Pieces’ and the mix of acoustic guitars with bass-heavy beats in ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’, are prime examples of this and emerge as two of the album’s highlights.
‘Amok’ is more of an abstract and sporadic album that is clearly different from Yorke’s work in Radiohead. Whilst ‘Amok’ may not have the lasting legacy as some of Radiohead’s work, it is a confident and encouraging album that further highlights Yorke’s song-writing talents, and illuminates his continued passion for groove-heavy, yet glitchy, electronica.
Atoms For Peace – AMOK is released today via XL Recordings.