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12. Radiohead – Idioteque


…and for their next trick, Radiohead will disappear completely. “I’m not here, this isn’t happening”, Thom Yorke sings, four tracks earlier on the same album, but it’s not until Idioteque appears that every last lingering preconception about how Radiohead should sound is completely erased. That a band with as rich and expressive a palate as Radiohead should choose to dehumanise themselves so utterly is alarming to start with; that they do it so successfully only augments the effect. But the chinkless facelessness of Idioteque is precisely its success – this isn’t Thom’n’Johnny anymore, this is machine and machine and machine, robotic beats usually reserved for anonymous electronica, auto-generated lyrics, primitive computerised drones. The finished product is shrink-wrapped vacuum packed mystery, a giant steel slab of a recording, a huge, windowless building. “This is really happening”, implores Yorke – it’s one of the song’s more incongruent moments: so disconnencted is Idioteque from its surroundings, nothing could feel further from the truth. Even encountered as part of the staggering unexpectedness of the Kid A album, Idioteque remained startling. Belligerent and paranoid, it is the sound of one of the world’s most emotionally scrutinised bands deliberately reducing themselves to machines and abstraction. Both intellectually and psychologically, that’s quite some vanishing act.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 13/12/2009 7:05 am

    Sweet choice, it’s number 19 on my countdown.
    But I won’t say that too loud, since I’m nowhere near number 19 yet.

  2. 14/12/2009 3:18 pm

    And it was #65 on mine, whilst ‘Witness’ was my #24.

  3. Sam permalink*
    14/12/2009 3:22 pm

    Don’t we all have impeccable taste!

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