Sonic Weirdo

“Everything, All Of The Time”

August March
4 min read
Radiohead’s newest: A Moon Shaped Pool
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Once upon a time, in the years following the untimely death of the blond, elfin guitar god from the north woods during the springtime of 1994, many in the realm were convinced of a devastating sickness overtaking the street spirit of the royal sound.

King Buzzo himself, accompanied by his noble assistant Crover trekked deep underground in search of answers. Meanwhile, bands of crazed, half-literate and musically non-descript maniacs prowled the land seeking fragile young ears and minds upon which to prey. Cohorts with outrageous names like Stone Temple Pilots, Bush and Creed laid waste to the rocanrol world.

Until one day, far across the pond in the northern reaches of the empire—near the site of an ancient college, by the church where the man who invented Wonderland was buried—a quintet of concerned lads with art school credentials and pop pretensions withdrew a mighty sword called “Just” from a big granite stone on the heath outside Aylesbury.

And they slew all the dragons. And saved the world. And rocanrol music. They were called Radiohead. The end.

That’s a nice dream, and it’s almost true.

Unless you’re music writer Dan Ozzi, over at
Noisy: In a review of the new Radiohead recording A Moon Shaped Pool, that writer—in that vaunted section of the interwebz—grew flummoxed at the aforementioned ensemble’s proclivity for dastardly time signatures and other postmodern compositional techniques (note to other potential music noodlers: when writing about or performing music, it helps if one knows something about its basic structure).

It’s satisfying to note that the deep-thinking Ozzi is part of the same discourse community that routinely celebrates indie and punk bands who can’t really play their instruments and never intend to work toward mastery because, dang it, punk rock is sooo cool and ideas and identity politics are totally on fleek compared to stuff like musicianship.

Otherwise humans throughout the kingdom are convinced
A Moon Shaped Pool is the work of illuminated, otherworldly, yet weary wizards—who happen to like minor key signatures, atonality and chromaticism, by the way. Of course the truth lies somewhere in between total fucking mastery and lofty irrelevance in the age of plastic.

A Moon Shaped Pool represents an ornately despairing evolution in the methodology and process that results in the thing called Radiohead. Long past the phase where the five toyed with overdriven, angsty, three-guitar rock— pushing the genre toward the orchestral on The Bends before deftly deconstructing it with OK Computer and then utterly discarding its beautifully rotting corpse throughout Kid A before setting a course for deep, dismal space on the work that followed—the new Radiohead album appears with no precursors.

The album begins with an outrageously outright denial of all things rock— including its devilish practitioners and followers themselves—called “Burn the Witch.” This is followed by the flame-affirming, glitchy after-glow reverie of “Daydreaming.” The recording progresses through a studied yet groovy iteration of the genre’s essence on “Ful Stop” before restlessly and effortlessly wandering through a collection of songs that are too achingly full with the weight of Western civilization—musical and existential—to try to describe in writing.

A Moon Shaped Pool rests upon the premise that Radiohead remains at the ready, the vanguard in a global operation designed to thwart phoniness everywhere. Their manifesto may be complex and sometimes disturbing in its timbre, but damn it, they’re still the best chance rocanrol nation has against the forces of evil.
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