You can see why Radiohead might have chosen not to put ‘Ill Wind’ on the standard version of this year’s ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’. Unveiled today as part of the ‘AMSP’ Special Edition, it’s a deceptively simple track whose various strengths can be found on several other ‘AMSP’ songs. Perhaps the band thought those bases have been covered elsewhere; ‘Ill Wind’ could have felt like repetition had it been part of the standard release.
Like ‘Daydreaming’, ‘Ill Wind’ swirls into an almost overwhelming mass of harmonious sound – the kind of spacey stuff that makes you start pondering higher powers – but rather than being in unison, ‘Ill Wind’’s are counterpoint melodies that drift over each other like debris in an eddy. But, with its acoustic fingerpicking and samba rhythms, you could also compare it to ‘Present Tense’. And its vaguely threatening imperatives (“Keep your distance / Then no harm will come … Keep your cool / Do not give into emotion”) are rather like the doom-laden narrative of ‘Burn The Witch’.
Equally, it’s chock-full of very synthy synths, which aside from ravey centerpiece ‘Ful Stop’ don’t have much of a presence on Radiohead’s ninth album. ‘AMSP’’s digital aspects are memorable mainly for sounding so organic and unobtrusive – encapsulated best by the swirl of glittering synths on ‘Daydreaming’, which supplement rather than overshadow that track’s sweeping strings and piano. ‘Ill Wind’’s are so effective precisely because they sound so alien. As they tumble over each other in the song’s outro, they sound like freaky dismissal music from a church service in outer space.