Thom Yorke’s Far From Solo Project an Impressive Hit.

atoms_amok_packshot_5Atoms For Peace is the group that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke put togeth­er in 2009 so that he could tour his recent­ly released solo album Era­sure. And their debut album, AMOK, is basi­cal­ly a fol­low-up to that.

Atoms For Peace are made up of long time Radio­head pro­duc­er and mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist Nigel Godrich, Flea, the bassist from the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers and drum­mers Joey Waronker and Mau­ro Refosco.

The lat­ter is a Brazil­ian musi­cian who has toured for years with David Byrne, and he became one of the pio­neers of what came to be known as World Music when he set up his record label Lua­ka Bop in 1990.

The sub­se­quent arrival into our liv­ing rooms of the sounds of Latin Amer­i­ca, Africa and Asia was one of the hap­pi­er off­shoots of glob­al­iza­tion. And it’s that sound and his pres­ence that rever­ber­ate, hap­pi­ly, through­out this album.

AMOK is basi­cal­ly the slight­ly more melod­ic sound­ing album that we expect­ed to get with Era­sure but didn’t. Most of the more recent Radio­head albums have been dri­ven by the con­flict between con­fronta­tion­al, twitchy dig­i­tal beats and the seduc­tive deliv­ery of Yorke’s melodies. But all of that takes on a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent feel here as each of the tracks are gov­erned by a com­mand­ing afrobeat.

brian enoIndeed, from the moment that the first track kicks in, it’s impos­si­ble not to hear in the twang of the lead gui­tar the sounds of west Africa, and specif­i­cal­ly those of Fela Kuti. And the album that fol­lows is a won­der­ful mix­ture of nerdy indie intro­spec­tion fil­tered through infec­tious and unin­hib­it­ed glob­al rhythms.

Yorke has said that it was the impres­sion­is­tic song writ­ing of Byrne that inspired (and slight­ly intim­i­dat­ed) him on this album. But what you hear here more than any­thing else is echoes of the col­lab­o­ra­tion that Byrne and Eno pro­duced in the 1980s with My Life In the Bush Of Ghosts. And AMOK is a gen­tle com­pan­ion piece to that, with­out in any way being overt­ly deferential.

It gets a slight­ly grudg­ing 6.9 from the boys from Pitch­fork here. Which isn’t bad. But doesn’t real­ly do jus­tice to quite how enjoy­able the album is. Under­stat­ed, yes. But mem­o­rably so.

Sign up for a sub­scrip­tion right or below and I shall keep you post­ed on All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Tele­vi­sion and Music!


Speak Your Mind