When I managed to get my hands on a copy of the new Atoms For Peace album, Amok, I nearly exploded with excitement. Without trying to draw too much attention to Thom Yorke’s work with Radiohead, I’ll say that the sound of this album is something I would expect to follow up The King of Limbs, and as a musician, I’m hating myself all over again, loving every passing second of this fantastic album. Without having any knowledge of the creative process behind this band, I assume that Yorke and Nigel Godrich (keyboards and synth, long-time producer of Radiohead’s albums since 1994) are obviously the driving forces behind this album, working alongside the talents of Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M.), and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco (Forro in the Dark).
First off, there are some really great drum tracks on Amok. I’m always impressed by a percussionist’s ability to take the sterile precision of a computer program and impart it with a remarkably human soul. Listen to ‘Default’ and you’ll hear what I mean. A synthesizer opens with an irresistibly catchy chromatic melody, which can only be described as alien-like hip hop backbeat. Then, a whimpering “hey” ushers in an unorthodox eight-note accent pattern in the drum-machine, which provides a novel groove that never deviates from the strong head-nodding four-feel of one of the album’s most memorable tracks– My personal favorite part of this song are Thom’s serene-yet-triumphant vocals in the last chorus. Rarely does one hear such clear-cut components blend into such a cohesive track.
Really, the rhythms throughout the album, both percussive and melodic, are maddeningly innovative. Another great example of this would be Flea’s bass line on ‘Stuck Together Pieces’. It’s the kind of writing that catches me off guard and begs the question, “how did you come up with that?” I think that having him on the album has really made it something special for me, and his touch really completes its cool, relaxed vibe which, in my opinion, seldom exudes the energy necessary to score a car-chase scene, but is certainly capable of doing so.
These songs are all stand-alone tracks, each with a specific instrumentation and unique feel. Somehow they all fit and flow together very well. By the time the album ended and started over again, I was surprised by how quickly 45 minutes had gone by. The level of creativity exhibited by this production leaves nothing more to be desired from such great musicians. I mean, they even have a danceable 7/4 song, which of course awards Atoms For Peace with odd-meter props. Yes, this is the kind of music that you have to listen to at least 100 times in order to catch the tiny intricacies that make it stand out from any other work. Myself, I haven’t felt the need to listen to anything else for as long as I’ve had Amok in my possession… 10/10
*Previously Published on http://www.violentsuccess.com*