Thursday, 3 November 2011

The King of Limbs remixed: Radiohead as source material for new gen producers

[Wrote this for the Spectator Night & Day arts blog but it hasn't been posted up yet]

TKOL RMX 1234567 
XL Recordings

Given the clangorous fanfare and critical parping that usually accompanies a new Radiohead album, the February release of the band’s eighth studio effort caused merely a few ripples in the big splashy sea of new music. Partly this is down to the band’s decision to forego the expected promotional duties, festival headline slots and arena shows, but another explanation is that The King of Limbs could be band’s least successful and least memorable record. While it’s not without its moments, particularly when it hits its stride halfway through with the twin beauties of ‘Lotus Flower’ and ‘Codex’, TKOL is Radiohead in B-side mode, showing off a practiced ease with their own style and the organic interplay between human and machine; acoustic warmth and synthetic glitch.

But it was also obvious that these few tracks (only eight of them!) would undergo multiple incarnations, as producers and DJs from the top of the tree to its bedroom-bound roots got their hands on the fertile raw material. Given Thom Yorke’s recent collaborations with progressive hip-hop producer Flying Lotus and home-grown talents Four Tet and Burial, it’s not hard to imagine Radiohead taking the remixer’s job into account as they tinker in the studio. Why finish a track definitively when someone else will do it for you? Why write 10 great songs when you could do eight and let the remixers go forth and multiply?