Jump to content
johnsmithe

Is The King Of Limbs Radiohead's most peculiar album?

Recommended Posts

Love it or hate it, it's a special album far removed from past ventures in mood and in tone and the Basement Version is warm and optimistic in a way I think Radiohead has never been before.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's definitely their most peculiar album. If it were to be compared to any of their previous work, then Kid A is the obvious choice, but it is stranger in it's quality and form. Whereas Kid A melded organic musical instruments and electronics very cohesively, TKOL is structured to where the first half of the album is heavily electronic and the latter half is more organic.

 

This isn't to say that it's a sharp divide between both halves: there are obviously guitars, strings, horns, and pianos on the first half of the album, but they are looped to the point of losing their organic qualities, albeit slightly. The second half of the album is more of a reflection of what they would do with A Moon Shaped Pool. I think what makes the album so odd in their discography is also coupled with the fact that A Moon Shaped Pool seems like the more likely follow up to In Rainbows. 

 

But, more narrowly, everything about the album itself makes it odd and enigmatic: especially the album art and title and the strange references and themes related to Norse Mythology. Fuckin' love this album though. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's definitely their most peculiar album. If it were to be compared to any of their previous work, then Kid A is the obvious choice, but it is stranger in it's quality and form. Whereas Kid A melded organic musical instruments and electronics very cohesively, TKOL is structured to where the first half of the album is heavily electronic and the latter half is more organic.

 

This isn't to say that it's a sharp divide between both halves: there are obviously guitars, strings, horns, and pianos on the first half of the album, but they are looped to the point of losing their organic qualities, albeit slightly. The second half of the album is more of a reflection of what they would do with A Moon Shaped Pool. I think what makes the album so odd in their discography is also coupled with the fact that A Moon Shaped Pool seems like the more likely follow up to In Rainbows. 

 

But, more narrowly, everything about the album itself makes it odd and enigmatic: especially the album art and title and the strange references and themes related to Norse Mythology. Fuckin' love this album though. 

 

Enigmatic indeed. It can be compared to Kid A in terms of unorthodox style but when I think of the mood the music generates I keep coming back to warm and reassuring, just how that opening track Bloom comes on, a mood I think the band began to explore on In Rainbows, ''Reckoner'' and ''House Of Cards'' come to mind. So those 3 albums I think aren't like the others. ''The King Of Limbs''. then ''In Rainbows'' and ''Kid A''. Kid A can be a bit cold and alarming. Ed O' Brien said in an interview more than a year before TKOL came out,

 

''We have been rehearsing for the last four weeks, for this new record. And we are in a very different place, a very new place. I don't know if this is relevant, but I was talking with Philip [selway, drummer] three days ago about this. We were saying, "What's different?" And one of the things is we do things without fear. A lot of where we come from — our education, our upbringing — manifests itself in the shadow of fear. I love that Talking Heads album title, Fear of Music. There has been a lot of that. And in a sense, I don't think it served us too badly. It kept us on our toes. It kept us trying to seek new areas artistically.

The trouble is, as you get older, fear is not a great motivator. If you have fear, you can't relax. [The 2007 album] In Rainbows definitely hints at that. The way that album sounded actually goes against the grain of those two years, the gestation period. That was fear-based time. But the album didn't turn out that way. And certainly the gigs after it hinted at a different way of being. What we're trying to do now is make art without fear. You're relaxing. There is more joy in what you do.''

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-decade-in-radiohead-ed-obrien-on-kid-a-to-in-rainbows-20091221

 

Perhaps this ''different place'' and the length of time it took making The King Of Limbs, meditating on its mood and meaning, contributes greatly to its peculiarity and distinctiveness.

 

Another thing that intrigues me about the record is if it can really be described as ''electronic''. Sure the method of looping so prominent on the album is a strong characteristic of electronic music, but aside from very subtle bass synths on ''Lotus Flower'' and ''Feral' and ambient noise on ''Magpie'' and elsewhere, it's incredibly organic sounding. The piano and drums on Bloom, the lovely guitars on Magpie, Little By Little and Separator. I think the finished product is groundbreaking.

 

The basement version is very much a companion to the album. I extracted the music only from it and edited the tracks and made it into an album and it's one of the best works they've ever done in my opinion. Top notch sound and instrumentation, TKOL FTB is like their hidden LP. Whatever warmth and feeling that may have been lost in the complexities of the original album for some, it's brought back front and center with the raw live energy in the Basement recording.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for me it's their most disposable, it's certainly not "weirder" than Amnesiac or Kid A to me and it's eclipsed by the two surrounding it.  that said i do like some of the songs spawned by that era but the only reason i ever feel compelled to go back to that album in particular is to see if i was wrong about it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for me it's their most disposable, it's certainly not "weirder" than Amnesiac or Kid A to me and it's eclipsed by the two surrounding it.  that said i do like some of the songs spawned by that era but the only reason i ever feel compelled to go back to that album in particular is to see if i was wrong about it

 

You're pretty fucking wrong about it. 

 

Just kidding. I'm glad you keep giving it a shot, because it was a grower for me as well. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the album where Thom's obsession with "brief statements" became detrimental. No amount of discussion/debate/analysis will ever convince me that TKOL is "complete". It's just too fucking short. It's missing something crucial, in spite of the obvious strengths of certain tracks. It never satisfies. Rather, it infuriates. There is no complete arc from Open Your Mouth Wide to Wake Me Up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah it is. It's short, but perfectly paced. The more time passes the more I respect it. The change in tone from the first half to the second is fantastic, and it comes full circle, with Bloom being like the birth of life from the sea and Separator Thom turns into a muhfucking fish

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only part of the album where it gets a bit off track is codex. Nice sounding song but it doesn't really fit at all. Without it the album is basically remain in light where it progressively gets slower as it goes on and it's all rhythm based.

 

But yeah it's such a cool sounding album in hindsight, the way it sounds in contrast to AMSP you can really appreciate how "up front" everything is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But yeah it's such a cool sounding album in hindsight, the way it sounds in contrast to AMSP you can really appreciate how "up front" everything is.

 

i kinda feel like this but with In Rainbows instead of Limbs

 

the main thing AMSP did for me in this department was make me realize my reasons for not loving Limbs weren't rooted in some kind of nostalgic longing for "the Thief days" or whatever

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...