Thom Yorke has really reinvented himself as an excellent vocalist du jour of the dance music scene. The Eraser, his first solo outing, went down the path of electronic ambience and haunting piano-led balladry, which suits his vocal style so much better than the slacker indie of The Bends, classic album though it remains. You really get the feeling he’s hit his straps on the more experimental electronic side of things, a direction we’ve come to see from Radiohead since Kid A, the album that really divided the fans between the hardcore indie crew who wanted another OK Computer and the more open-minded music lover who cherished this inventive change in tack from Thom and co. You can’t help feeling a bit pitiful for the section of the crowd at Glastonbury who desperately scream out ‘Creep’ when the band have moved way beyond that sound, producing epic soundscapes like ‘Idioteque’ and ‘How to Disappear Completely’.
This remix package, consisting of six EPs and more on the way, includes a range of takes on Radiohead’s latest album The King of Limbs. The tunes that instantly stood out for me were on release number 4. The EP kicks off with an absolutely haunting mix of ‘Give up the Ghost’ by an unknown producer (though rumoured to be Actress). Its all eerie backing vocals, muted kick drum and stabbing synths, creating a deleriously emotional house tune that’s equal parts unnerving and warming. If that’s even possible. Thom’s vocals feature only minimally in a washed over background murmuring, adding to the track’s haunting nature. Many dance tracks, particularly those from the overdone house stable, tend to fade into the background. This is not one of those – this is a track that grabs you from the first second, and keeps your attention to the end.
The Illum Sphere remix of ‘Codex’ goes for a similarly unnerving, walking through the city alone at four in the morning feel. The original track, which is an absolute heart-wrenching killer, hasn’t been messed with too much, and Thom’s vocals remain the centrepiece, albeit punctuated by an unsettling ringing type moan which repeats throughout. The piano, which is the sole accompaniment in the original, fades in and out, underwritten by some minimal bass. Third track ‘Little by Little’ strays from the muted house stylings of the first two tracks, but is similarly subtle and emotive. A whirring noise kicks the track off, warmed by a gentle melodic guitar riff and a syncopated snare beat, which is about as loud as this tune gets. The track is guided by a quiet ambience, and like the other two on this remix release, major percussion and bass have been eschewed in favour of slow building, melodic emotive renderings of the originals.
Buy the EPs and originals here.