Radiohead’s Thom Yorke releases new Internet album

Rob Stockton 28 September 2014

Thom Yorke is experimenting again. After announcing Radiohead were to get back together to see if they could still make music back in July, Yorke this week decided to launch a solo album at us too – with very little warning. 'Flipping heck!', I shout, scrabbling at my desk for a pen, but then realising I write articles on Microsoft word, so don't really require one. 'I thought you said no alarms and no surprises Thom, wow!'

Yet it's with little surprise we learn that Yorke has decided to experiment with a unique method of internet release for this new record, entitled Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, much as Radiohead did with In Rainbows. A user/Thom Yorke enthusiast pays just £3.69 for access to 8 brand new tracks, and a music video, via the file sharing service BitTorrent. Yorke describes it as 'a self-contained embeddable shop front' that he, and other music makers, can use to 'bypass the self-elected gatekeepers'. Who these gatekeepers are, and why they have ground Thom's gears quite so, is not revealed.  

Always out of the box. Except when he's in a box??!

But what does it sound like? The elected lead track from the album, 'Brains in Boxes' is a clue. There are wobbly, repeated bass synths, faux-acoustic drum loops, layered vocals drenched in reverb.  The effect is ultimately very Yorke, with somehow a little more edge, more bite, than we might be used to. This is murky, electronic and calculatedly dark.

The video only adds to this effect – Thom staggers around in extreme close up, eyes flitting around the lens in front of him, before the camera pans out, the video cutting wildly, revealing him in boxing gear being punched by invisible enemies. Are the enemies us? The music industry? Those flipping 'self-elected gatekeepers' again? Who knows. The overall effect is definitely unsettling though. 'Why don't you defend yourself Thom?' we ask, along with the obvious question, 'what's happened to your hair Thom?'. He doesn't answer, just gets punched in stony silence. Interesting.

Is it good? Yes, yes it's all right. It's dark, it's disconcerting, it's knowing. It's Thom Yorke.  

Download the 8 track album here: