I can’t help but think of German bands like Can and mid-70s ECM jazz records.
I would put on this album while suspended in a flotation therapy chamber.
Kid A would make a great soundtrack for Andrei Tarkovsky’s post-apocalyptic science-fiction classic Stalker.
Kid A is sometimes referred to as Radiohead’s nervous-breakdown album since its creation was a reaction to the burnout of incessant touring and the overwhelming commercial success of OK Computer. The record literally explodes the band’s previous sounds and processes. Traditional song structures are intentionally rejected, with singer and chief lyricist Thom Yorke using word cut-ups reminiscent of the Dada poetry movement and the works of William S. Burroughs. Producer Nigel Godrich and the group stretch all boundaries, using obscure 1920s electronic instruments like the ondes Martenot and having members refrain from playing on some tracks. The final product comes across as more a soundscape than any kind of cohesive collection of songs. The mood encourages the listener to look inward and let the music envelop, disturb, or caress.
In the years since its release, Kid A has become widely recognized as one of the most influential records of its time. In spite of its decided move toward electronica, the album feels sonically warmer than its predecessors—largely thanks to Godrich and guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s organic, multi-instrumental approach to arrangements. Side one, in particular, sounds downright cozy—akin to a soft cotton electric blanket. Even when such a safety gets stripped away on the Charles Mingus-inspired “The National Anthem,” the analog charm persists.
Kid A also demands to be heard on vinyl. No digital converter I’ve encountered and no download I’ve sampled conveys the natural quality present on both the original 10-inch Parlophone release and current XL Records version. While quite close, the former possesses a slight edge due to its extra warmth and more natural dynamics. That said, I’m not sure the current asking price for a good copy of the original justifies the sonic payoff. Anyone buying the current version should be happy. My review pressing is ruler flat and almost as quiet as the original. Disappointingly, however, XL Records failed to provide vinyl inserts to protect album surfaces. Unacceptable.
Last chance to change your mind...