on 27 May 2007
Prevailing opinion seems to be that electronic music is the future. Mind you that thought has been the same since the 70s. Nevertheless, the mixed reaction to Radiohead's Kid A suggested that we were not quite ready for a popular band to be quite so brave. It felt like listening to the future. Champions of the electro genre such as Richard D James have been around for ages, but have been restricted to that genre. Kid A triggered even 'acoustic' acts such as Travis to open up the laptops - the new millenium had arrived.
2006, and Thom Yorke releases this - comparable to Kid A in many ways but a unique work nonetheless. Its driven, not by beats but by Yorke's human voice and his usual kniving lyrics - if you have seen any of his acoustic performances of the songs from the album you will agree.
I urge you then not to buy this album because of the Radiohead connection, or because its something different, or because it made it onto the Mercury shortlist - buy it as a soulful collection of songs that makes Aphex Twin seem like a thing of the past.
on 10 February 2007
The most interesting aspect of this album is whether, for Radiohead, a solo electronic Thom Yorke album will represent an exorcism, and a break with the recent past of similarly informed Radiohead albums. Simplistic perhaps, as the band are unlikely to regress back to simple guitar based rock, as is the wont of many. Regardless, the bands next step has never been more intriguing.
Interetsing though such questions are, we should not do disservice to The Eraser, which has endured as a fine album, worthy of commendation. To those who yearn for Bends era radiohead, look away, if indeed you're reading this at all, and for others, this is at many times Thom Yorkes most successful set of electronic songs.
The songs are more intimate than recent radiohead work, with Yorkes voice up front in the mix, and the songs are more tuneful and melodic than recent work. Opener The Eraser is jerky, yet anthemic, with a euphoric outro, with subsequent tracks like Analyse and Black Swan grooving inistently. While the middle section is less persuasive, the closing Harrowdown Hill and Cymbal Rush are extraordinary, sparse, building and beautiful in a unique way.
It is this ability to fashion warmth ftom cold musical landscapes that marks out The Eraser as a strong piece of work, and Yorke as one of the pre-eminent musicians at work in the UK today.
on 23 November 2006
I'd been told not to buy this album by a friend, who said ultimately I'd find myself disappointed.
I don't normally write any product reviews on Amazon but I simply had to for this album, even if I can only convince one undecided shopper to buy this album I can hopefully rest in peace knowing that I've changed somebodys persons world.
The first time I popped the disc in my cd player I gave the album a quick listen through thinking to myself "Hey, this is actually pretty good"
Several months on this album is so much more than that. I have all the Radiohead albums in my CD collection, my favourites being The Bends, Hail to the thief and OK Computer. However, this album really does eclipse them all.
So full of touching, beautiful moments you simply shouldn't miss out on this unbelievable work of art. I stick it on before I go to bed each night and in my dreams get transported to another world, somewhere far away from this universe into the realms of impossibility and beyond.
on 11 August 2006
Don't get any big ideas! (No pun intended) This album is not for everyone. If I was to compare it to any of the Radiohead albums, I would say soundwise, it's similar to Kid A and some of the more electrical tracks from Hail to the thief.
Thom and long time producer-pal Nigel Godrich (the 6th radiohead member surely??), have carefully put together a flawless record that says exactly what thom's been upto since the HTTT sessions.
The material is totally different to any of the new radiohead songs (As played on their recent European and US tour).
You get 9 or so songs, which one could say remind you of the HTTT track, The Gloaming.
It's all very catchy - you'll be blurting it's lyrics after a few listens and a few listens is what you'll need when getting into this record.
I'm quite pleased for Thom and Nige. They've done really well for themselves.
And no... it's not a 'solo' record!!
on 22 June 2006
this album is worth buying for the track Black Swan alone. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it and it gets better with every listen. sinister yet elegant, dark and glossy, this song combines a rhythmic bass line with sinuous, eerie guitar notes that blend with thoms voice beautifully. think of a charcoal grey horizon and quiet rain, it's an evocative & subtly emotional song.
the rest of the cd follows in the same vein (i haven't listened to it enough yet to appreciate every song fully). the tracks standing out to me so far are the clock, harrowdown hill & eraser.
i think its an album to listen to by yourself. on a winters night. :)
on 18 July 2006
First off, this is pure Thom genius. Haunting, melodic. If I have a criticism it's that it's not particularly surprising. If you'd have thought about what a Thom Yorke solo album would have sounded like before you heard it you might well have imagined this record. Which may well be a good thing, hey?
Some dunce gave this album one star and complained that it even came in a 'cheep (sic) cardboard cover'. Having had the luck to have a little inside insight on this project I think you should know that the cardboard was very deliberately chosen for its lack of environmental impact. I also think it's rather more beautiful than the same old plastic crap.
The gorgeous cover's designed by Radiohead collaborator Stanley Donwood BTW, I heartily recommend his book, 'Slowly Downward', also available on this site.
Thom Yorke's solo album isn't much of a surprise and slightly odd - the principal songwriter of Radiohead who has previously made similar material in the band (`Pactlikesardines...', `Backdrifts', `Idioteque', `Push/Pulk', `The Gloaming' & b-sides like those on `Pyramid Song') - has continued similar electronic directions but away from the band...Kind of - the central piano chord sample/loop on the opening title track stems from Jonny Greenwood and the album is produced, co-arranged, and played on by long-time producer Nigel Godrich (who confusingly isn't producing the new Radiohead album!). I tend to favour tracks like `The Gloaming', `Idioteque', the live version of `Everything In Its Right Place', & `Pactlikesardines...', so I'm quite happy with an album of this stuff. I'm not sure it's that earth shattering, it seems that like `Kid A/mnesiac', there is an overstatement of how advanced Yorke is - there's a list you need to read in Paul Morley's `Words & Music' if you think this is the case. Manipulated vocals on `Everything...' in 2000? - see the sixth track on Throbbing Gristle's 1980 album `Heathen Earth' (likewise the amateur jazz directions). Spikey digital noise and ambient directions? - er, see Autechre, u-Ziq, Boards of Canada, The Aphex Twin, Plone, Polygon Window, Squarepusher, Tortoise, Autechre, Baby Ford et al.
What Yorke does do on this album is take these electronic directions and craft them around songs that aren't that far from pop - like Kurt Cobain and Jeff Tweedy, Yorke is afflicted with the curse to avantgardsters of the gift of being a fine songwriter. This ain't no album of pig-noises, pummelling metal objects, or digital-gabba-jabber. It feels like a few e.p.'s filed together under the saved name of `Electronic Directions.' Does this mean Jonny Greenwood will be able to play guitar in the `Head again, or, more disturbingly, that Radiohead will begin to make conventional rock records like U2 did with `All That You Can't Leave Behind'?
`The Eraser' is all highly listenable, though it drifts off into slightly more experimental climes with the double whammy of `Skip Divided' and `Atoms for Peace', both of which are distinguished by not being as catchy as their surrounding tracks. `Black Swan', which features in the so-so adaptation of `A Scanner Darkly', seems an obvious single and is a more minimal relative of Radiohead's `Optimistic' - there's a catchy riff, though am not sure how much radioplay the f-up/f-up chorus would get. Such sentiment underlines the album - which drifts between Samuel Beckett in cyberspace and the ideal mp3 friendly soundtrack to the horrific zeitgeist: play on repeat as you flick from atrocity to celebrity to atrocity to celebrity: Iraq to Paris Hilton to Sudan to Madonna...
`Analyse' is the kind of song that Chris Martin would love to write, but when he can only offer a lame approximation of `Ocean Rain' and `The Unforgettable Fire', you ain't gonna get there. It's not weird though, none of this album is, just like `Kid A' wasn't weird either - if you think this avant-garde, you've been drifting in the mainstream too long and I can only prescribe `Strategies Against Architecture', `Mission of Dead Souls', `Millions Now Living Will Never Die', `Philosophy of the World', `Red Mecca', & `the Drift.' I think in some ways Yorke isn't that far from Timbaland, though this album may very well be the `As the Veneer of Democracy Starts to Fade' of its generation. It exists in an electronic realm between `Try Again' and `The Space Between', around `Heathen Earth' and `Sexyback', and around and about `Get Ur Freak On' and `Surfing on Sine Waves.'
`The Clock' has a groovy guitar/bass riff, more minimal than Radiohead, and one that recurs on `Black Swan', `And It Rained All Night', and the single `Harrowdown Hill.' `The Clock' has some great stick-sounding clatter, the kind of thing Neubauten have created in the past - quite subtle and refining the tribal into some kind of Teutonic order.
The end sequence of `Atoms for Peace' is enjoyable, especially when it shifts into `And It Rained All Night', a `Drowned World'-fantasy located in New York - though alluded to in the Londoncentric cover of the album. `Harrowdown Hill' has a funky bass-line that reminds me of stuff like Gang of Four and The Pop Group - it's actually a cheery song despite the subject matter relating to the dubious death of Dr David Kelly (Yorke wrote scathingly in a broadsheet about the findings of the Hutton Whitewash). The verse part is quite dark, tempered by the chorus which seems quite utopian ("we think the same things at the same time - we just can't do anything about it!...Don't ask me, ask the man in the street...there are so many of us..."). It doesn't feel like defeat... `The Eraser' concludes with `Cymbal Rush', which has an electronic sound very close to the introduction of Depeche Mode's 1981 b-side `Shout' and featured on an earlier Radiohead release. This track seemed a bit fractal initially, but is now the one I play the most...a conclusion to an enjoyable album of electronic directions. I'd like some more of this kind of thing. The soundtrack to this generation. Androids Dream of Electric Yorke. Good for wandering around desolate places not talking to people to. I don't belong here. So...what next?
on 5 January 2007
Thom Yorke's Eraser is best viewed as a tangential companion piece to Kid A, in my mind Radiohead's best album. It was that record's Morning Bell that best married Thom Yorke's bare, unprocessed vocals with electronic soundscaping and instrumentation. Those dissatisified with some of Radiohead's tampering with Thom's vocals will enjoy some of the naked intimacy of his voice here, especially engrossing over the headphones. Beginning with the deceptive, faux-naive Chicago house chords of the brilliant title track, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a miminal affair. But Analyse and The Clock put guitars into the mix for tracks that wouldn't be out of place on Amnesiac, the latter having a passing resemblance to that album's Knives Out. Whereas these tracks err towards drifting ponderousness, Black Swan has a discreet pop sensibility married to I Might be Wrong-style looped guitar loops and layered harmonies.
The best part of the album, however, is its final third, beginning with Atoms for Peace, in which sweet vocals compliment meditative electronics in the mold of early Aphex Twin. The subtle textural shifts and intricate but unfussy production gives an idea of what Massive Attack tried but largely failed to achieve on 100th Window. Better still, Harrowdown Hill tells the story of weapons inspector David Kelly's suicide as an Orwellian tragedy. Despite being one of Yorke's most overtly political songs, it is also one of his most heartbreakingly universal: "We think the same things at the same time / We just can't do anything about it. / We think the same things at the same time / There are so many of us. So you can't count". Cymbal Rush sustains this sombre and elegaic mood to round off a record as accomplished, if not more consistent, than Radiohead's last two. The album's modesty and intimacy is its genius, removed of some of the bombast and histrionics that Radiohead seem to veer towards under the burden of expectation. Viewed independently, this is one of the year's finest electronica albums and one of the most successful cross-over alt-rock / electronica records ever made.
on 13 July 2006
I have been a Radiohead fan for 10 years and there has never been a disappointment in any of Thom Yorke's creations. This solo album is amazing. If you are used to the aimless beats most of his songs produce and crave anything he creates, you'll love it. You have to have an ear for this kind of music, an acquired listening. Personally, The Eraser is a great opening and though some of the middle songs fall flat, I still appreciate the unique sounds, the drearyness, and of course Thom's voice.
on 6 April 2007
As a huge radiohead fan I was most interested to hear of a Thom Yorke release and soon purchased this album. As most fans listen to this, they probably expect music almost identical to radiohead. This is in some ways quite different from radiohead, take for example the songs "Atoms for peace" and "The eraser", they deliver a different rhythm, melody and are even perhaps shaded lightly with optimism.
I must admit on the first listen to this, I wasn't exactly thrilled. When I first listened, I thought I might end up not liking it, but I then thought- its Thom Yorke, he knows what he's doing!! And, giving it a few more listens all the songs really did click with me. Especailly the last three songs, when I listen to them it can really take me away. I had already bought "harrowdown hill" which immediately lured me into getting this album. This album of course does continue the trademark atmospheric and dark sound, that you'd find with radiohead.
With this album though, I think you either end up loving it or hating it. And I love it, coming in after Ok computer it would would be right up there now in my list of favourite albums. There is no denying that Thom Yorke is a genius, and this album is a perfect example of this.