Atoms For Peace – [Album]

Friday, 14 June 2013

Hearing that Thom Yorke and Flea have collaborated on an album together certainly sounds like an intriguing, with lots of creative potential. On AMOK, they team up with Nigel Goodrich, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco to produce some very spaced out jams. Unfortunately, the results are not nearly as interesting in fact as they are in theory.

Influenced by Afrobeat, the album primarily consists of Yorke’s breathy vocals over stuttering beats and washes of electronica. The problem is there’s just not enough variety between the tracks. Any individual track, in isolation, can hold a listener's interest but, over the course of a whole album, they all blend together and fade away into mere atmospherics. To add insult to injury, there is not any particular track which jumps out and distinguishes itself. You might as well pick any one, and you will get a good sense of the entire album.

The music on AMOK can’t quite decide if it wants to be foreground or background. It reminded me of Eno’s various ambient experiments at times, but the beats were always too polyrhythmic to truly fade away. They keep calling your attention back to the music, but there’s not enough going on there to really engage you.

At times the album sounds half-completed, like these are the rhythm tracks of a larger project. I’m sure Yorke and company would find this thought abhorrent, but I found myself wishing for a guitar solo on more than a couple of occasions; or at least for Flea to throw in some really funky bass lines to loosen up the vibe.

AMOK's tightness and stiffness brings up a further problem: this is incredibly un-soulful music. It may be inspired by Afrobeat, but what we end up with is the stiffness of a British drizzle – not the lushness of African jungles.

The confusing bent of the record ends up being the thing which sinks AMOK. It can't help it, really, because the players, while very experienced and basically divergent on paper, have no idea how to play with one another and arrive at a sound which does all of their talent justice; it's a good idea, but the execution is problematic.



AMOK is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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