Friday, September 26th seemed like just another Friday. Slagging through another Friday work day with the glimmer of hope being some tasty craft beers sitting in my fridge waiting for me to compensate the blahs from just another work day. It was sunny out, too. So that helped. But then all of a sudden I see the headline “Thom Yorke Releases Surprise Solo Album”, or something close to it. I listened to “A Brain In A Bottle”, and while I wasn’t blown away it was enough for me to want to at least pay the $6 to download it. I waited on downloading it. Instead I went home, enjoyed those tasty brews, and watched ‘The Blacklist’ till nearly 11pm. The next day after paying bills and cleaning up the house for a PTO get-together that my wife was having that afternoon I succumbed to the anxiety of thinking I’d miss my chance at owning Mr. Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes on vinyl and ordered the deluxe vinyl from Sandbag. The vinyl purchase came with an immediate download of the album which I didn’t download until late Sunday night. Monday morning I brought my iPod to work and hooked it up to my reasonably decent-sounding computer speakers and hit play.
Well, I liked it. I mean, for some album that just appeared out of the ether it sounds pretty damn great. And the fact that it’s coming out just a year and a few odd months after Yorke’s masterpiece with Atoms For Peace, Amok, one wonders where he finds the time to spew such brilliance. It’s not some great leap from The Eraser and that album’s blippy, skittery landscape. It’s still heavily entrenched in the Four Tet and SBTRKT area of electronics and ambient vibes. It’s still heavy rhythms and low end bass like Atoms For Peace. So why get all excited about this record? I guess because underneath it all it’s a great-sounding, well-produced album on the surface. But once you can put on some headphones and really let the music immerse your brain, well that’s where it gets kind of brilliant. If I was one to dabble in weed I’d say roll a joint, burn one, and listen to this record. There’s so much going on that a standard listening experience whilst working at your computer just doesn’t cut it. What one might consider just another Thom-Yorke-cookie-cutter-electronic-album is actually a small, personal, little masterpiece.
This isn’t a review. I still have many listens to go before I sit down to put the proverbial pen to paper. I still need to spin this one on the platter with a beer. That’s when the magic happens, kiddos. I was going to comment on all the hullabaloo I’ve been reading over the digital waves regarding this whole Bit Torrent deal, Yorke bypassing big business(not really) to put his record out the way he wants to, yadda yadda. Listen, I don’t care how an artist puts out their music. If they want to send carrier pigeons with flash drives tied to their tiny legs across the world to drop them at various points then let ’em. I just won’t ever have one to own. I think the days of artists and bands being aligned with record companies are long gone. The record companies aren’t vital to an artist getting their music to their fans. That’s not to say they can’t work together, I’m just saying it’s not necessary. I hear younger music listeners and artists talk about how baffled they are that bands like Radiohead exist anymore. Sure, I think they’re a dying breed of artist. The rock band that is as big as pre-packaged pop artists. But why bemoan the fact that these bands want to be paid fairly for their work? I don’t get that. $6 for a download? That’s too much to pay? If he’d gone through Capital/EMI it’d be double that. If you don’t want to pay, then don’t. I’ll gladly pay that, and much more, for an album from Thom Yorke, Radiohead, or any other group of “old timers” that are still making interesting, forward-thinking music. These are the same people that won’t pay $5 at the door for a house show in someone’s living room to see a guy that’s traveling in a van, yet will walk outside and smoke a Marlboro Light and suck on their shitty beer. Ehh, I take those opinions with a grain of salt.
After three listens I find Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes to be quite brilliant, I just can’t pinpoint why just yet. If you’ve heard it I wan’t to know what you think of it. Give me your input. What’s your opinion regarding the Bit Torrent thing? Hell, I’m still trying to figure it out myself. Anyways, put on some headphones and enjoy. A review will follow soon.