Atoms For Peace – AMOK

Album Review by Bram E. Gieben | 05 Feb 2013
  • Atoms For Peace – Amok
Album title: Amok
Artist: Atoms For Peace
Label: XL
Release date: 25 Feb

Does age mellow everyone? The Thom Yorke we encounter on Amok is not the alienated, fractured personality from The Eraser. Although similar in some respects, Amok is a very different beast to Yorke's only other non-Radiohead work. Opening with the funk-infused bass and uptempo drums of Before Your Very Eyes, Yorke's lyrics offer a downbeat perspective, but one that is looking toward the light: "Beyond where you're looking / The keys to the kingdom." The song climaxes in glorious synth bass and Yorke's reverb-drenched falsetto, soaring as a complex chord progression rises and rises.

The almost entirely electronic palette of The Eraser is still a touchstone – the band originally formed to help Yorke tour that album – but the organic instrumentation and sometimes fussy arrangements are a technical leap forward. Informed by UK bass music and classic Warp acts like Plaid, Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, tracks such as Default and Dropped convince mightily, using the electronic bedrock to create a template for wild excursions on guitar, bass and synth, while Yorke's vocals are multi-tracked, chopped, and stretched – by Yorke himself, pushing his performance, rather than relying on studio effects.

When the band nod towards techno (the stunning keyboard drone of Unless, bubbling closer Amok) the results are transcendant – there is the sense of hours of experimental jamming condensed into blistering five-minute workouts. Amok is like the sunrise after the storm and flood of The Eraser – full of dawn light and colour; deceptively simple songs constructed from intricate clockwork parts.