Atoms For Peace – Amok (2013)
An interesting “supergroup” line up here: Thom Yorke from Radiohead leads the fray on vocals, programming and guitars; and brings along with him bassist Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers; session drummer Joey Waronker, known for his work with Beck and REM; Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich with programming; and finally touring percussionist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mauro Refosco.
For all those players, Amok seems to sound rather sparse and open, never sounding claustrophobic; the general sound revolves around electronic beats wrapping around Yorke’s well-known voice. It’s hard to imagine that it is funky slapper Flea on bass when he is producing simple (but granted, effective) bass lines that in reality could have as easily been programmed, taking into account the context and the rest of the sound on the album. Likewise, the seemingly redundant amount of personal required to create the beats. This is more an observation than a criticism, but I did imagine this to be a duet project when listening.
That said, Yorke does have a good ear for interesting electronic projects, from a collaboration in 1998 with UNKLE on Rabbit In The Headlights, to Radiohead’s change of direction after OK Computer; and this album certainly is interesting to listen to. It is a mostly sparse electronic beats, almost entering, but never quite committing to, glitch territory, occupying a narrow range, with thick bass tones which sound so processed that whether they come from a stringed instrument or synth would be a point for debate if the presence of Flea was not known. Yorke’s voice is on top form, there’s no denying it.
For all my criticism, it is a very enjoyable album and always interesting. It’s not a groundbreaking album, though, and I found that many of the tracks seemed to lack distinction.
Favourite tracks: Ingenue, Judge Jury and Executioner, Dropped
Spotify link: Atoms For Peace – AMOK