Originally released 5 seconds ago, here's a white vinyl luxury re-issue of the album Thom originally released on Bit Torrent in his latest attempt to re-badge the music industry. The music on record makes no such grand statements, comprised of some of Yorke's most minimal and quiet electronic work yet, continuing his descent from dramatic synth artist on 'The Eraser' and modest groover on 'AMOK' to something of an electronica hybrid artist. Out in time for Christmas.
Vinyl LP £19.69 XLLP866
180g white vinyl reissue LP on XL Recordings. Printed with a metallic silver laminate and multi-tone black, with undersize 75mm centre labels, housed within heavy white board inner and outer sleeves.
- Includes download code
- Only 1 copy left
CD £8.23 XLCD866
CD on XL Recordings in mini-gatefold package with an 8-page artwork booklet.
Vinyl LP £29.99 GRAB001
Deluxe 180g white vinyl LP on Landgrab in bespoke anti-static shield bag.
It is for the good of Normankind that this review is late. You know why: we react to Thom Yorke before we listen to him. It has been a long time since the Radiohead frontman had any interest in making musical statements -- since 2007, his biggest decisions have gone into marketing, industry and politics. Those things rarely trickle down into his records, which these days come in ripples of minimalism and quiet detail. Matching up recent records with their trials and tribulations is telling: the supposedly revolutionary salesmanship of 'In Rainbows' can be equated to a really fucking good rock record, while the bluster and immediacy with which 'The King of Limbs' appeared was used for a record of fussy but mumbling electronics. Now we've got 'Tomorrow's Modern Boxes' in its physical form -- and we're done talking about Yorke's latest ploy to sell the record via BitTorrent, a move he at least believes in the significance of -- it's easy to split the difference between downloading the record and actually hearing it. This grandiose record is silent as a mouse.
'Tomorrow's Modern Boxes' delves further into the trajectory of Yorke's solo records: it asks you to come closer and listen in, sobering up from the more dramatic moments of 'The Eraser' and continuing to develop the subtle grooves of 'AMOK'. While it sounds warm with many of Yorke's favourite electronic influences -- techno, electronica and IDM -- it purposely dilutes them for bedroom listening. Hearing these songs is like seeing one of Yorke's Dead Air Space office charts come to life, the Aphex Twins and Boards of Canadas easily apparent (especially the latter, who could easily have ghost-written "Interference", a track of chilling, early-morning electronica right out of 'Tomorrow's Harvest'). "Truth Ray" is a slow cut of limping beats and disoriented vocal coos, while the record's most excited track, "There Is No Ice (For My Drink)", is arranged to suggest hyperventilation rather than party -- it's flat-lining techno beat sits alongside repeated, frenzied whispers that fade out for more of the record's contented, stay-at-home ambience.
Hearing 'Tomorrow's Modern Boxes' in its element back in 2014 was a little wearying: it felt like another inaccessible entry into this late, disjointed version of Thom Yorke and Radiohead we're still coming to terms with. But where 'The King of Limbs' also proved itself to be a gorgeous, mesmerising record out of its initial context, there's something about this record that's starting to grow and mutate. Its minimalism needs breathing space, and when it's granted that, it becomes a strangely pretty record about isolation and the way it can beat on, like a tune in the club no one else is there to hear.
5/10 Lars Dideriksen 13th February 2015
Yorke is moving into more and more minimal territory with this one. And it feels a bit too throw-away. Not quite had the quality control up and running here. Half the songs are not really happening. But those that do (brain in a bottle, mother lode and nose grows some) are great and grow on you. The biggest problem with this release is the insane price tag. The wants-to-be-luxurious packaging is utterly stupid. Doesn't make sense. Needlessly elaborate. And not really anyway, as it's a plastic bag and a bit of green colour (that doesn't even shine in the dark). Doesn't even begin to make up for the 30 quid price tag. Considering Yorke released this via BitTorrent we must suspect this eliminated any sort of middle man. Thus this record should be cheaper than normal, right? Wrong. And Mr. Yorke is most likely laughing all the way to the bank. So-so music with a few highlights and then ripping loyal fans of with fake luxury. I want to like this... but this sort of treatment of fans and "extortion" of the actually few members of the music BUYING public that are left... just sours the whole deal. I'm just wondering how long I will be stupid enough to continue throwing too much music at this Oxford lot. At some point I suspect I will be fed up. Good music or not. And yes, it's not just a problem with Radiohead. It's a general thing in the current vinyl business. With Yorke's new business model it should have benefitted the fans. But I guess he couldn't resist. If only all the songs were good maybe it would be alright. To add insult to injury there are glitches in the sound on the record (not audible on the download) that crept up during too hasty manufacturing, I'm sure. The folks at the Yorke camp are totally quiet when asked about this. But they got their money, of course. The record wasn't bought through Norman, who I am certain would have sorted this sort of thing out within a heartbeat, as they always provide impeccable service.
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