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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 7 April 2013
For me, Thom Yorke's debut solo album, The Eraser, was already on a par with if not superior to the best of Radiohead's output. Amok, technically recorded by Atoms for Peace though Thom Yorke's direction is unmistakeable, continues and reinforces that trend - Amok outshines anything Thom Yorke has recorded so far, as part of Radiohead or otherwise. This is a bold claim but the strength of this record is such that I am more than happy to make it.

The production on this record is something I have never before experienced - utterly perfect and mesmerizing. The percussions alone would make a fine album. Add in the base, the keyboards, the voice, the electronic tidbits and the vast array of instruments and this is a classic album in the making. All the songs seem to surpass each other and they're already all favourites of mine.

Of course I need to make clear that I love Thom Yorke's development as an artist from alternative rock to electro-rock and that for me the best of Radiohead's work starts with Kid A, much as I like The Bends and OK Computer. If you're fortunate enough to own a decent and above average sound system, this record will titillate your ears and your mind in a way that no other record in existence can quite manage - of course, this is my personal opinion.

I cannot thank Atoms for Peace (and Amazon) enough for this gem of a record.

Five stars easy
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on 25 February 2015
Very good. Not quite all the way through but it is very good on a few tracks...now I must get around to buying the Eraser by Thome Yorke and would be very cool if he and the rest of Radiohead were back to recording a new album.

Thome Yorke and the rest of Radiohead are for me a modern collection of musical geniuses.

Not many around anymore and Floyd, Moby, Jarre, Oldfield along with a few others like the Doors and Zeppelin belong to this unique group, for me, of creating ground breaking music...so you tend to pay attention to anything they do! Lol.
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on 27 February 2013
According to a recent interview this album apparently came out of an extended 3 day jam session between the 4 principal musicians. And the main problem with it is that that's exactly what it sounds like.
The songs here almost all sound exactly the same. In fact it's hard on a first listen to tell them apart. Anxiety-inducing we've-got-2-drummers-and-we're-going-to-use-them skittery rhythms that never seem to change or let-up, assorted warbly synth lines, the odd bass line chucked in and Thom Yorke. Repeat.
What this album is missing principally, imho, is some considered song-writing, something that the phenomenally talented Mr.Yorke is more than capable of. I loved The Eraser, its one of my all-time favourite albums, and I was looking forward to the sequel. But what that album has that this one does not is some emotional light and shade, musical dynamics and some properly written songs with decent arrangements. The songs here sound exactly like what they are, bits chopped out of longer jams and fiddled with in Pro Tools to try and turn them into actual finished songs.
Sure, the production is astonishing - what else would you expect from the great Nigel Godrich? Sure, the vocals are haunting and ethereal, what else would you expect from the brilliant Thom Yorke? Sure, the album cover is great - absolutely. But this album is somehow so much less that the sum of its parts.
It's so disappointing, because it could have been so great. If only the band had decided to invest the time and commitment to put together a proper studio album instead of just a 3 day jam session. In its worst moments it smacks of "that'll do" cynicism. Case in point, the first 2 minutes of the album. Flea's bass line comes in and, unless I am very much mistaken, fails to correctly follow the guitar chord progression. Listen carefully and, if you have a musical ear, you will hear what I mean. I'm sure this is forgiveable during a jam session, but very sloppy to end up on a finished album. Now, I do not doubt for a moment the musical genius of the players involved, so it may be that this was a deliberate musical choice, but I can't quite escape the suspicion that that's how the bass line came out during the jam, and for one reason or another it wasn't possible to re-record it. So it went on the record. Mm.
It's sadly ironic that there is nothing on here that even comes close to the song after which the band is named, Atoms for Peace. The emotion, the laid-back rhythm, the atmospheric electronics - in a word, subtlety. Not to mention the brilliance of the songwriting - there isn't a single lyric on this album with the memorable strength of the first line of that song, "No more going to the dark side with your flying saucer eyes."
It's hard not to feel that what's gone wrong is the addition of the other 3 musicians to Thom Yorke's solo project, which I think benefited from the sparse laptop beats and backing tracks. Here its all constant too-busy rhythm parts (perhaps an unfortunate side effect of having two Star drummers in the band who presumably couldn't be left out out of the final mix - no matter how much the song cries out for it), and in-your-face synths. Fine if that's your cup of tea I suppose but it doesn't do it for me.
There's no doubt Thom Yorke is one of the most creative, talented and intelligent artists out there today. In the final analysis, who cares about the production values, how well engineered a record is, or how well designed the cover is? What's important is the music that all those things serve - whether it speaks to you, what it communicates, what it makes you feel. Unfortunately, for me in this case, the answer is not much - except mild annoyance at a project that could have been so much more. Is it terrible? No, not at all. It's OK - but that's all.
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3.5 Stars

Atoms for Peace are of a sort of "supergroup" (don't groan!) fronted by Thom Yorke of the popular beat combo Radiohead. Around the table with him are long-time producer Nigel Godrich, the serial collaborator Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM/Beck drummer Joey Waronker and another Chili Peppers' luminary Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco. Radiohead's last album "King of Limbs" split the jury with its freeform, quirky and mechanistic beats not least in its first half. It was nonetheless a grower and in any case Yorke shows no desire to play to the gallery and return to the big rock sounds of "The Bends" or "OK Computer".

This project according to Yorke was the product of a session which involved rather too much wine and spirits where he and Flea ended up "tired and emotional" after spending hours listening to Fela Kuti. The influence of African funk rhythms can be clearly located on "AMOK" not least on the nice opener "Before your very eyes" but if anything the star of the show is Goodrich whose synth playing is everywhere. Overall "Amok" is a much happier affair than the "King of Limbs" although in parts its does have some experimentation that's a bit undercooked and for this reviewer doesn't have the immediacy of "Eraser". The album is about shifts and contrasts no more so than on track such as the excellent "Default" with its slabs of synth and typical Yorke lyrics about "making my bed and lying in it". The fourth song "Dropped" is possibly the best thing on "Amok". It is darkly twisted and has a beautifully cynical York vocal which echoes back to "Hail to the Thief" era Radiohead. Some songs, however. such as "Unless" are exercises for the band to show their virtuosity with Flea's slap bass pushing the vehicle forward, but are they great listens? The song "Stuck together pieces" could be a subtitle for the album and is a nice funky little beast with a twist of underlying threat. "Judge, jury and executioner" has an angelic choir like backdrop and really does show the worth of the project where all the sum of the parts fit. The same is true of the fascinating "Reverse Running" and although the debt to Aphex Twin is clear its buzzy six minutes are hugely enjoyable. Not so the title track which is meticulously constructed and clever but does show Yorke's tendency to self-sabotage as you sense there is a better song in here waiting to get out.

Atoms for Peace is a hugely worthwhile side project and if it does represent the state of Yorke musical mind then there is clearly much more mileage to be travelled from his current key influences of UK bass music and bands like Squarepusher and Boards of Canada. AMOK is a genuinely inventive and innovative yet on first listen it is easier to admire than love and truly memorable songs are in short supply. That said much of Yorke's music does creep up on you and unpicking the albums dense fabrics will undoubtedly generate significant rewards.
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on 8 November 2013
This band need no introduction, any album with Thom Yorke usually sells.
So no surprises here. The vinyl is very well made and package.

First listen, did not get into it. The music kind of aimless... I guess Thom is in his dupstep mode again. Flea as usual with all his funk in his blood, very predictable.

Second and third listen, I gave it another shot. It is a ok album, nothing special nothing fantastic. This isn't his best work, I still very much prefer the old Thom in Radiohead.

Having said all that, it is still a good album to owned and listen to when you feel like dancing.
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on 21 October 2014
With Thom Yorke as the front man you know exactly what you are going to get. An electronic experimental album... but it is not really that experimental as both the recent Radiohead and solo albums are quite similar. Flea (RHCP) brings a bounce to the baseline which actually gives all the songs a quick pace... unfortunately this also makes them a little samey.
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on 27 February 2013
Thom Yorke and Flea? Radiohead and Red Hot Chilli Peppers? Super group?
Somehow they manage to shake off their 'home' bands and come up with an album
full of ideas an a raw nerve.
Its minimal, funky, electronica. Its sounds familiar enough to draw you in but fresh enough
to be exciting.
A minor masterpiece in my humble opinion.
Buy!
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on 20 May 2013
I bought this on an ill-advised whim. It's well produced and well played, but that is no recommendation in this case. It's also incredibly samey, with no light and shade either within or between tracks, no development, just go-nowhere groove after g.-n.g. and mumbled presudo-profundity after (usually the same, multiply repeated) m.p.-p.

It's also very different from the two source bands' material, which is no bad thing in itself; just a shame they went for doing something duller instead of more interesting.
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on 24 April 2013
Superb album,and a real grower. Each track is a different emotional trip for me and is Thom Yorke at his best. Superb vocals and a great sound to the whole album. Awesome....
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There's three types of people. Those who like "Kid A". Those won don't. And those that have never heard of Radiohead.

Ever since 1995's huge "The Bends", Radiohead have become huge without necessarily trying : a three year absence, resulting in the very different "Kid A"/"Amnesiac" could have decimated their career - certainly other, better bands have recoiled from fame the same way and doomed themselves to a life of penury. Now, two decades on, Radiohead operate in their own world. In the meantime, Thom Yorke has a second career. Though ostensibly a debut, "Amok" is really the second Thom Yorke solo album under a band name, using the same musicians that toured the "Eraser" debut a few years ago.

Without checking, you would think that "Amok" was recorded at the same time by the same people and not seven years later : the music is clearly different to his band, and in my opinion, better - a more considered sound that removes the rough edges of grating guitars and replaces them with dense synth textures, complicated and atmospheric drum patterns, and an overall sense of overwhelmed, exhaustion. Thankfully the sound is not compromised by Flea's (from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) often asinine basslines which are thankfully tempered and thoughtful here. The percussion from former REM sticksman Joey Waronker bears few of the hallmarks of that band, being as it does, that the music is made from rearranged and remixed recordinsg of general jam sessions, instruments replaced with electronic imitations, sounding oddly human yet not.

It's difficult to pull out individual songs from the first few listens, and they all form a cohesive whole of material that are all individual yet very similar in style and feel.The mostly single word titles, and the occasionally muffled diction create a sense of wilful obfusication, or a deliberate distance generated : only with "Judge, Jury And Executioner" is a sense of a crack in the light, a way in, seen, but - like many of Yorke's more recent songs - they seem at first at least to be about something abstract, something distance, something unclear.

"Amok" is a difficult record, but not a perverse one : it requires the old fashioned virtues of paying attention - and lots of it - and repeated listening. Nothing on here will get played on the radio - then again, who cares what is played on the radio? The vast majority of it is absolute drivel anyway. This, an extension of "The Eraser", is a sequel. The same but more. The record ends at the same place it started, which is with little sense of drama or completion.
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