Radiohead's Thom Yorke vs. the machines: The battle goes on
Who is John Matthias (pictured)? Take your pick. He’s the British avant-folkie who just put out an accomplished, unsettling album, Stories from the Watercooler. He’s also the physics Ph.D who, with collaborator Nick Ryan, created Cortical Songs — a far-out project due this month in which all the music was “written” by an artificial brain program on a computer, then played by a human orchestra. (For a more detailed explanation which may or may not clarify matters, try this academic paper by Matthias and Ryan.) But most importantly to the likes of me, John Matthias is an old pal of Thom Yorke’s who totally played violin and viola on The Bends. In fact, Yorke recently repaid that 13-year-old favor by remixing one of those Cortical Songs tracks. So what does it sound like when Radiohead’s leader works out his infamously complex relationship with modern technology… on a piece of music that literally emerged from some sort of rudimentary robot mind? Check it out at Nonclassical Music’s Myspace, or stream it below (thanks to Pitchfork for that):
I, predictably, am loving it. This remix could easily have fit in on Yorke’s electronic solo album The Eraser if only he’d seen fit to sing a little something over that dissonant backdrop. That’s a compliment — it’s fun to hear him going crazy with all those glitchy bleeps and blips again, even if it’s only for a few minutes. So I’ll definitely be enjoying this track while I wait for Radiohead to follow through on the tantalizing hints they’ve been dropping about new material in the works (already? OMG!) — and I’ll be keeping my ears open for the next twist in John Matthias’ career. How about you?