Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

In today's day and age, music is flourishing like it never has before, despite record sales and all the other physical charges being utter crap (thanks, record labels!). Music discovery is booming, with avenues such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp giving new artists the chances they need. However, who ever said you can't teach an old dog a new trick? Recently, major artists have started taking music distribution to the next level, introducing new methods that many artists have not dared try. Most notably, U2 distributing "Songs of Innocence" via iTunes, to which the Internet responded "Who the hell is U3 and why are they on my iTunes?" While they essentially "forced" their music upon every Apple user, they did achieve quite a feat - over 81 million people have experienced the album. Maybe giving music away for free is the REAL way of making some cash? Probably not. But that didn't stop Thom Yorke for going to the next step: releasing an album through piracy. Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, the first album to be released via pay-gate, was released on BitTorrent to millions of listeners. Though, while it may have reached these unimaginable amount of people (aren't there only 6 million people anyway? I call hacks), were these people satisfied? Hell if I know. Here's how I felt:

1) A Brain in a Bottle: This song starts off the album strong. Musically, it's relatively simple:  a soundscape of synths and vocals. Something that this song does very well is layers. Each sound is layered very nicely, making it almost impossible to distinguish different channels, though it all adds up into a fantastic experience sonically. All in all, my favorite on the album. 10/10

2) Guess Again!: This one has a nice funky beat. Grooves for days. Lyrically, this isn't too impressive but the subtle vocal approach makes up for it. The atmospheric background is also great, very haunting. The piano is also creepily awesome (i made pun), love that. Solid track, overall. 8/10

3) Interference: My other favorite on the album, though there's not too much to say about it. The very light vocal approach adds a very innocent tone to the piece. Very atmospheric track. 9/10

4) The Mother Lode: mr. yorke cant speel At this point, I can say things I've already said before: nice soundscape, atmospheric, etc. What's unique about this track (at this point in the album) is that the piano is especially weird in this one. I like. The vocals are equally haunting. There's also a particularly interesting synth line in this one. Weird track overall, though it definitely says what it needs to say. 8/10

5) Truth Ray: Not much to say here - the soundscape has a more "brassy" sound than the previous songs (and most of the following ones, as well), making it a bit more open sounding and entrancing. Abandoned subway/factory vibe. If there was like a robot rave there. Yeah. 7/10

6) There Is No Ice (For My Water): Well that's just too bad, Thom. My least favorite track on the album, a 7 minute track that just drones on. It's charmingly weird but it starts becoming uninteresting after awhile. Its one saving grace is that it has a nice piano outro. 5/10

7) Pink Section: I liked this one because it continued the lovely piano that TINI concluded with. The entrancing piano starts becoming glitchy, with random bursts of sound interspersed in there. Adds an interesting element that keeps your ears intent. 7/10

8) Nose Grows Some: To conclude the three-song medley and the entire album, and it builds off of the glitchyness and noise that Pink Section had created. The song has a nice message: I'll stay with you no matter what, through thick and through thin ("But you're just another drop / It is metal and it's cold / We'll wait upon the rocks, I am waiting on the tide / Through my back doors / If I'm blowing myself away under half fluorescent lights / Two birds on a wire / Your nose just grows / And grows / Did I grow up tall / I will be with you") Yay for Pinnocchio and his allusion to lying. 7/10

This album is centered around its soundscapes over it's lyrical or vocal material, which is very weak as compared to what Yorke can do as displayed by his other projects. more falsetto pls. For the Radiohead fans, consider this a continuation of The King Of Limbs in a more experimental direction. This is electronica level Yorke. In the end, I was pleased with the album as a whole, only partially disliking one of the tracks. My only wish is that his next effort steers away from the soundscape-dependant tracks and opens up to more open-sounding and even rock influenced tracks.

Favorite(s): A Brain in a Bottle, Interference

Least Favorite(s): There Is No Ice (For My Water)

Overall Rating: 8/10