Atoms For Peace
While the group first started playing together back in 2009, Amok is the debut full length from Atoms For Peace. So, if you weren’t lucky enough to see them at Coachella in 2010 or at one of their scant few other American tour dates, you may not have a good idea of just what AFP sounds like. Let’s fix that. Have you heard any of Thom Yorke’s recent solo material? It’s sounds pretty much like that… and not really altogether different from King Of Limbs. That’s not all that surprising considering that Radiohead’s lead singer vocalizes for the group. But it’s even less surprising when you consider that Nigel Godrich, who has produced and engineered for Radiohead in the studio since 1994, plays guitar, synths and keyboards on the album. Yorke’s lyrics are as cryptic as ever and, while these songs may not take his voice to some of the gloriously transcendent heights it has soared to in years past, he still sounds as nuanced and angelic as you would hope. So what’s different about Amok, and why does it make for a better listen than KOL? Close your eyes and imagine Yorke and Flea hashing out the side-winding progressions of these songs they devised in just a three-day recording jam session. Having fun yet?
Flea became renowned for having a more technical and aggressive sound than a lot of rock bassists, and throughout Amok he’s much more the role player. His bass fits nicely into the pocket of the album’s dreamy soundscape, but it may still leave fans of his more bombastic work with the Chili Peppers or The Mars Volta wanting more. Instead, synth licks that get established early and repeated often, syncopated percussion flourishes and electronic clips are the main accompaniment for Yorke’s falsetto musings. Luckily, while they seemed so few and far between on King Of Limbs, real, live guitar riffs also turn up fairly consistently (“Reverse Running”, “Before Your Very Eyes..”). These riffs give a more human touch to the record and create some dynamic sounds when used in combination with a layered choir of Thom Yorkes and the synthesizers borrowed from that studio John Frusciante locked himself in back in 2004. Amok may not represent the pinnacle of the musical career of any of the members of Atoms For Peace, but it sure puts to shame anything by Night Ranger and Damn Yankees.
Listen: “Ingenue”, “Reverse Running” || Watch: Atoms For Peace – Judge Jury And Executioner”