|music: first listen: september 5, 2000|
release: October 3, 2000
listning event at Sony IMAX theater by Lincoln Center
September 5, 2000
I had the opportunity to go to a multimedia listening event for Radiohead's new album, Kid A at the Imax theater up by Lincoln Center.
Tickets were supposed to be made available at 6:00 pm. We got there at 5 and waited in line until we walked in at about 7:15 or so. Some people got their passes earlier in the day, but waiting in line worked.
The album will be released October 3 in the US and when I get a chance to listen to it more thoroughly I might come closer to hearing everything going on in it. The album is very dense and experimental. Everyone who has written about Kid A so far has said that it is a post-rock album. I was prepared to hear something different, but this was very different from what I expected. It features lots of electronics and synthesizers, drum and vocal loops. Kid A is very far out there. It is very different than anything else Radiohead has done to date.
This album is not so much about songs as it is textures. Suprisingly, for a band that does use a 3-guitar lineup at times, no guitars are heard distinctly until the acoustic on "How to Disappear Completely." Rhodes keyboards and electronics fill the spaces where guitars might have been.
While some critics have described the album as jazzy, this is more of an electronic record than a jazzy one. That said, there are parts of the album that I enjoyed on the first listen, while others I didn't really appreciate. The opening track, "Everything in its Right Place" is a great tune that uses effects, loops, and keyboards for a funky, slightly weird sound. This is my favorite track from the album. "The National Anthem" features a horn section playing some weird stuff, while te rhythm section keeps a beat up. Very different, but cool. "How to Disappear Completely" is an acoustic song, which is nice. "Treefingers" is a very weird ambient electronic piece. It's very much out there in left field.
Of the later tracks, they've blurred together in my memory a bit, but one was very electronic, one was similar in texture to "Everything in its Right Place" (I'm sure when I listen to my copy of the album, I'll disagree with that), but it features electric rhodes piano and what sounds like a cool drum loop built from a part actually played by Radiohead's drummer, Phil Selway. the final track they played, Motion Picture Soundtrack is a quiet tune, built over an organ part.
All in all, I have to hold off a judgment until I get a chance to listen to the album a few times. For a first listen, I had mixed feelings about it. I enjoyed the fact that it is so far out and the textures are brilliantly crafted, but it is so far out there that I'm not sure about it. This first listening was intruguing.
As for the multimedia-ness of the event, the music was accompanied by a 3d IMAX move of fish and underwater scenes, which had nothing to do with the album. It didn't detract from the experience at all, but it didn't add to it. I was expecting something edgier and more abstract for the visuals.