You lucky Los Angeles clubbers, you. Not only do you live in the City Of Angels, but last weekend (April 27), you had the esteemed privilege of watching Thom Yorke swishing his new ponytail around like a particularly ebullient and glossy horse. And, of course, you got a glimpse of the new material he’s been beavering away on with the likes of long-term Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea for their Atoms For Peace supergroup.
What the three new tracks Thom and Nigel showcased at their DJ set is anyone’s guess – and no-one’s quite sure if they’ll end up on their debut LP, which is rumoured for a 2012 release, either – but scroll down to listen to the as-yet-untitled songs and read our take on them.
“Cor! This DJing lark’s a swizz!” says Thom as he mooches around the stage doing virtually bugger all. He’s even got time to check his watch – wants to get back in time to watch The Voice, probably – and slurp on his drink while Nigel Godrich does all the donkey work. For all his insouciance, though, this is a well-crafted pretty little thing: glitchy and jittery, sure, but built around ‘Kid A’-esque sound splinters, a plinky-plonky piano line and Thom’s low-register croon. Not quite as inaccessible as some of the naysayers would have you believe, perhaps.
If you’re one of those souls who never tires of arguing that Radiohead peaked with ‘The Bends’ and wishes that Messrs Yorke and co would stop messing around with the electronic noodling so they can do some ‘proper’ songs like ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ instead, then gird your loins: this won’t be your cup of tea. But a lack of catchiness doesn’t mean it’s without its merits. Percussive and beat-driven in a similar vein to ‘The Eraser’, Thom’s eerie vocal floats in and out of focus, while the off-kilter, mosquito-buzz loop of noise that leads the track to a climax sounds like a spool of tape slowly unwinding itself.
Again, there’s another relentless woodpecker beat holding this one together. But instead of discordant shards of noise, it’s dominated by one winding, snake-charming sample that slithers its way through the whole track. Most telling, perhaps, is how much it sounds like purely the work of Nigel and Thom, what with it bearing such an obvious debt to their minimalist collabs in the past; if it has been lifted from Atoms For Peace’s debut LP, as some have suggested, it’s quite a puzzle as to where the fret-wanking of Flea et al fits in.