Oh Thom…you have tried to shakeup the music industry again with your mysterious ways. On Friday, Thom Yorke decided to get a little cray cray with the music world again. His musical peers have tried to out do Thom before, and Thom doesn’t like to be shown up. Beyonce aka Queen Bey, dropped a surprise video album out of no where last December, with no advance press or fanfare that really shook up the industry. Many called the move brilliant, ground breaking. Better yet, she had the sales to back up the move. U2,. the great Irish band that we all love to hate, gave their album away to every iTunes customer two weeks ago for free, even though thousands didn’t want it or ask for it. Some might call that move savy and others might find it obnoxious. Apple had to create a website for people to remove the phantom download. I guess we can call that hate mail. But bottom line, U2 got their album into alot of people’s hands with a “buzz” worthy move.
What some people may tend to forget that it was Thom Yorke of the amazing and unpredicatblae band Radiohead, that were the first to shake up the industry by breaking norms of the way a traditional album is released and put into stores or on the web for general sale with their 2007 album, In Rainbows. Instead of giving the album away for free, Radiohead self-distributed the album via their website and allowed the general public to pay whatever they wanted for it. (I think I paid $9.00 for it) The idea at the time was groundbreaking, special, unique, and gave a slice of ownership back to the artist. It was different and noteworthy and a sort of F you to the industry that we can do this thing on our own. And…In Rainbows was IN-CREDIBLE, so the demand matched the buzz. But now with the Yonce album dropping and her hubby Jay Z releasing his album via a Samsung phone app, we can see that music’s heaviest hitters are trying new ways to be creative when it comes to releasing new music. Yorke, being the innovator that he is, tried to one up everyone by dropping his latest album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes via the website BitTorrent at the cheap price of $6.00 on Friday, September 26th. Yep, take that iTunes. You will not profit off this release. Or at least not quite yet. Yorke has released the first paid for bundle to be distributed through BitTorrent, a peer to peer file sharing software site. He wants to keep this album from the self-elected gatekeepers of digital music such as iTunes and Spotify. Check mate Bono!
But like any other publicity stunt, it all comes down to the actual product right. So how is the music? Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is a quality album. It’s not the greatest piece of music I have ever heard, but it’s a pretty decent effort from Mr. Yorke. I never know what to expect with Thom. He’s a deliciously clever dude with a sharp ear for music. I think he’s impeccable with melodies, and he is some what a virtuoso when it comes to blending sounds and creating complex musical structures. With Radiohead’s last album, 2011’s The King of Limbs, you could see Yorke and the band experimenting more with electronica music. Somewhat reminicent of Yorke’s 2006 solo debut, The Eraser, is the force of synthesized trip hop beats underlined with tender melodies all throughout Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. You can hear elements of both The King of Limbs and The Eraser in various parts of this album. The album is blitzed with programmed beats. Piano keys and Yorke’s famous crooning blend in with trippy synth sounds throughout the albums eight tracks. Some of the stand out tracks on the album are “The Mother Lode,” “Brain in a Bottle,” and “Truth Ray.” Yorke has elements of R& B on “The Mother Lode” which is my favorite track on the record. This album is another accomplishment in Yorke’s test of exploration within experimental music. He continues to push boundaries sonically with his music and now by using BitTorrent to distribute this product he is crossing boundaries there as well. It’s yet to be seen if this new found way of releasing music will have an impact on other artists desires to release their material in non-traditional ways. Yorke, and others continue to want to get into fist-a-cufts with major giants such as iTunes and Spotify. I personally think its a waste of time to keeping fighting again the man but I understand and respect his thought process. I just don’t know if the masses do.