REVIEW: Atoms For Peace ‘Amok’ LP

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For any who have, like myself, spent years…and I do mean years of their life slaving over every sound, and every lyric THOM YORKE has come out with, it seems devastatingly clear that his biggest problem he seems to have is with himself.

 It appears he has a constant longing to get away, yet he never really seems to get make it that far. The whirling, swishing mind-noise and melancholic almost eerie vocals so heavily attached to the legacy that is RADIOHEAD seem to seep into every musical escapade YORKE embarks on, and while on one level I believe ATOMS FOR PEACE and their debut album Amok to be no exemption, the meticulous layering of the album shows that this is far from just another ego fueled 44 minute long YORKE vent.

Upon first listen to Amok, there is no escaping from the fact that initially every track screams YORKE. It feels like trying to pinpoint the name of a song when it’s on the tip of your tongue, but to no avail. The sounds are so similar, but something just isn’t quite the same. The confusing and busy yet drawn out sounds topped with the longing voice of YORKE means it is understandably easy for some to see Amok, or in fact the entire ATOMS FOR PEACE project as being another platform for YORKE to explore his fascination with electronic music, with four other guys blurred out somewhere in the distance, yet a closer listening reveals the absolute necessity of every member in the 5 man super group.

The group is comprised of a smorgasbord of brilliantly wise artists from the music scene including not only Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Flea of the Chili Peppers, but Joey Waronker, drummer for REM and Smashing Pumpkins (to name a few) and Mauro Refosco, percussionist for the Chili Peppers and David Byrne.

At their conception in 2009, the combination of YORKE and FLEA (bassist for ATOMS FOR PEACE) seemed like an odd match. YORKE and his psychoanalytic, introverted ways mixed with the wild presence that is FLEA seemed a bit much to process, but once the initial shock of the similarity ATOMS FOR PEACE has (on the surface) to previous YORKE projects, it becomes clear that Amok is in no way purely YORKE’s doing. Crowd pleaser off the album ‘Stuck Together Pieces’ is one track that exemplifies FLEA’s years of experience, attention to detail and overall versatility.

This being said, it is easy to get thrown off by YORKE’s vocals, and by the similarities some tracks draw with albums from his past such as In Rainbows, King Of Limbs or even his solo project The Eraser. To me ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’ has RADIOHEAD’s sticky fingers all over it, and being the most well known and played track thus far may mislead people to think Amok to be just another YORKE-fest.

Other tracks on the album came as somewhat of a surprise such as the heavier, and progressive track ‘Dropped.’ While still consisting of billowing melodies and YORKE’s trademark vocals there’s something about it that shows that these guys have most definitely not fallen behind the times.

Amok is now available on CD, deluxe CD, LP, deluxe LP and digital download, and features artwork from long-time collaborator Stanley Donwood.

Words by Adriana Barro

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Before I disappoint anyone, I don’t have a hobby and can’t do any weird party trick shit, but hey that’s still fine in my books.