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Where Jet Streams Co-Mingle With the Leaves: "The King of Limbs" Is a Breath of Fresh Air
Review of Radiohead's new album.
The King of Limbs
Radiohead's The King of Limbs will sound like something you've heard. The whole album comes with apodictic activation energy lightly reminiscent of Amnesiac, soothing enough to the nerves of anyone who has suffered another irreversible day of being haunted by the loose ends of existence.
In fact, if a movie was made about how capricious life can be from the inside out- with an end scene revealing how fragile and potent trust of the self must be- then this entire album should play during the credits to assist the attentive audience member to light up, and really reflect, and come away with some grain of truth stuck between their teeth.
You'd also want to see the movie again and again and again, just for the ephemeral release one gets when "FIN" scrawls across the screen and the credit score kicks in, and you've once again found that magic feeling of understanding absent of anxiety: "We would shrink and then be quiet as mice/And while the cat is away/Do what we want" (from "Lotus Flower").
On a side note, if the shock of the nightlight’s absence and all its shadows and eerie suggestion at the edge of a forest isn't too much for you, then this is also a great collection of songs to make love to.
There is nothing so new in this album (Radiohead’s eighth) that it would perturb even the most reverent fan. Instead, The King of Limbs leaves a subliminal psychedelic explosion on the tongue, like a fine wine whose rarefied taste leaves you wanting more.
The King of Limbs is a compendium of collectively low-fi sounds, but it was mastered as an art void of constraints, and it sounds like it was a real pleasure for the band to create. Thom Yorke's dualistic lyrics and vocal resonance haunt the album like the beautifully disturbing strumming of a disembodied, wandering mandolin player: "Sleight of hand/Jump off the end/Into a clear lake/No one around/Just dragonflies/Flying to our side/No one gets hurt/ You've done nothing wrong" (from "Codex").
Each song has a drum-and-bass beat spring in its step, while the melodies stretch like a three-foot ball of rubber bands. The astute listener will enjoy snapping away all night long while the momentum underneath it all gains like the azure lighting before sunrise. By the end, hypnotized and in a warm bed with eyes closed to the piercing light, one will fade into unconscious showers of the mind.
Like In Rainbows, The King of Limbs was released online. For a mere $50, one can purchase a downloadable album (in WAV or MP3 format), two clear 10" vinyl records, a compact disc, many large pieces of artwork, 625 small pieces of artwork (this alone would cover your Christmas shopping), and some other spectacular goodies.
"King of Limbs" is incidentally the name of a tree presumed to be at least 1,000 years old in the Savernake Forest, near where In Rainbows was recorded. Radiohead’s latest album, however, is unlike In Rainbows in its acoustic approach and emotional aspect. Where In Rainbows prismatically strides, The King of Limbs is a floating egress. And what else could The King of Limbs be but the rhythmic beat of the heart that feeds oxygen to the blood? This album is a spectral loss of the ego that will carefully leave you feeling light-hearted.
One note: apodictic, a term only usually lawyers get to use, is defined as "incontestable because of having been demonstrated or proved to be demonstrable."