The musical powerhouse Atoms for Peace have released their revolutionary debut album AMOK. Experimental rock, delicate electronica, light dubstep and intelligent dance music (IDM) are what make AMOK a listening experience that will blow your mind wide open.
Radiohead’s Thom Yorke brought the band together in 2009 to perform the material from his solo album The Eraser. After touring together, the group went into studio and created a sound of their own. Nigel Godrich is the producer, programmer and pianist, Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Flea is on bass, Mauro Refosco is the band’s percussionist and Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M) is on drums.
The outcome of so many supreme musical beings working together is a patchwork of musical influences and darkly cryptic lyrics that will possess you. In an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Zane Louw, Yorke and Godrich explained the band’s sound: “It doesn’t sound like a band in the normal sense of the word because there’s this really grey, mushy area between what is electronic and what isn’t electronic … we have the luxury of knowing and you don’t.”
AMOK’s opening track “Before Your Very Eyes” is utterly fascinating. You will be overwhelmed by the perfection of Yorke’s mellow vocals and the variety of sounds. Yorke swallows the lyrics of “Default”, but that’s not a problem as the intricate electro should be the focus. The track is refreshingly original with fantastic percussion.
The intertwining of an R&B melody, hip-hop feel and Yorke’s dreamy vocals on “Dropped” add to the strength of this IDM track. There is a note of sadness mixed with dread in Yorke’s voice as he wails: “I couldn’t care unless, such a mess” to the deep base rhythm of “Unless”. The eerie introduction of the final track “AMOK” is over a minute long and will have you feeling hypnotised until Yorke’s question “A penny for your thoughts?” reels you in. The jazz-synth melody on this track is the final ingredient that will have you replaying this album over and over again.
It’s as if AMOK is straight out of some parallel universe with all its delectable modern synth and electro, but then you can hear the faint African influences in the harmonious “ooh, oohs” and deep jazz bassline of “Stuck Together Pieces”. By the end of the album you realise that it was Yorke’s intention all along to engrave Atoms For Peace into people’s minds using AMOK. Each song is a spectacular display of musical innovation that will weave its way into your heart. Whether you like it or not, once AMOK starts playing you will be forced to listen until the end, whether out of curiosity or pure awe.