Radiohead releases free stream of 'King of Limbs' remixes
Nearly a decade ago, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem smirked about "selling his guitars to buy turntables." At the time, the shift from the much ballyhooed garage rock revival to dance-punk was in full swing, and his caustic sentiment belied actual fact.
The trend has only increased over the last several years, as many indie bands have ditched meat and potatoes guitar rock for the fusion of synthesizers, gauzy textures and electronic sheen. Of course, there will always be plenty of popular bands dedicated to the Gibson, but between "chillwave," the ascent of DJ culture and the popularity of pop-electro like Passion Pit, Foster the People and MGMT, it's clear that dance music heavily informs the zeitgeist. All you really need to do is look at someone like Skrillex, who ditched his post-hardcore band to become one of the most popular dubstep DJs in the world.
Radiohead's "Kid A" had something to do with it. The British band has long been in the avant-garde vanguard, merging left-field sounds to dulcet melodies and Thom Yorke's beautiful banshee wail. But even more so than its peers, the band has shown a far deeper dedication to contemporary bass music. Many critics rightfully pointed out the influence of Flying Lotus and the Low End Theory beat scene on the group's latest gem, "King of Limbs."
But as their newly released triad of remix records displays, Yorke and Co. have never been about unsynthesized wholesale appropriation. Enlisting a cadre of electronic musicians ranging from the famous (Caribou) to the obscure (fast-rising Montreal producer Jacques Greene), the remixes have done what all good remix EPs should do: inducing the nuances of the original track while providing an entirely new aural framework for it.
The latest installment may be the finest yet. Recruiting Lone, Four Tet and Pearson Sound, Radiohead brings three of dance music's finest names into an orbit they don't usually inhabit. Admittedly, Four Tet has spent the last decade establishing himself as one of the most gifted artists in beat music, but on his remix of "Separator," he makes Yorke's saturnine streak shimmer, full of scuffed drums and phosphorescent synths. Lone turns "Feral" into a ghostly two-stepping dance party; Pearson Sound's Scavenger remix practically transforms "Morning Mr. Magpie" into a Chicago juke song.
Best of all, they're all available for free streaming below.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Bassist Colin Greenwood, left, and lead singer Thom Yorke, members of the British rock band Radiohead, on Aug. 24, 2008, at the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times