Atoms For Peace - Amok

A post-hardcore Trojan horse of towering edifice
Atoms For Peace - Amok

Mr. Thom Yorke is famed for his love of all things organic. And never has his musical basket revealed such specific taste than with his new pulsating and politicised Atoms Of Peace side project.  Essentially the skeleton of the backing band for his Eraser tour - Flea from the Chili Peppers and utilitarian uber-producer Nigel Godrich alongside the percussive sidekicks of Mauro Refosco and Joey Waronker - together they have built a post-hardcore Trojan horse of towering edifice.

It’s a dense work that’ll be discovered thriving equally happily in the niche of teenage bedrooms as in underground cults and a nebulous haze of mushrooming Mixcloud communiqués extending over the horizon.
 
Swirling together walls of molten, layered bass with snaking lazy guitar loops and licks  of glitches over staggeringly complex, mutant  rhythmic structures, they’ve celebrated rhythm and space in a darkly arresting way. The lords of haemorrhaged beats such as Four Tet, Burial, Blawan and Modeselektor now push a trolley full of food for thought.

We’re dropped early into the dark matter of ‘Amok’ when ‘Before Your Very Eyes…’ presents a fragile guitar line with progressively polyrhythmic drums which within a couple of minutes is over-wrought by the throb of shapeshifting and oscillating bass slabs that recall the more sublime moments of Cologne techno producers.

From here we stylistically pivot across all nine tracks. The tone and interplay of Yorke’s spectral vocals and irradiated guitars collide with a cacophony of razor sharp snares, shakers, degraded kicks, agitated rims and all manner of decaying reverberations.
 
Once in the grasps of ‘Amok’, we finds its  style consistent till its conclusion with the title  track. As an album its litany of surprises are shrouded more in stylistic delights than categorical revolutions in genre or tempo.

A true highlight is fourth track ‘Dropped’; it’s livid with awkward rhythms and mis-shaped notes that strongly suggest Thom’s greedy time in Modeselektor’s Berlin bass bunker collaborating on their third LP. It has the unmistakable melodious chime of their track ‘Hasir’, as well as the momentum that the Germans bring to nearly all their productions.

It seems Yorke’s time on XL has allowed him space to fully explore the so-called ‘hardcore continuum’, a rumbling influence of drums and extreme sonics that litter Richard Russell’s label. From early rave taste we see Thom look back to the likes of Liquid and SL2 through to his current collaborations on Text Records, to then throw forward into our arms one of the most mutant dance crossover albums we’ve been blessed with for a while.

It’s another nail in the already rotting coffin of the canonical guitar solo, and ‘Amok’ provides a murky and complicated landscape that sounds like very little else - except the scorched testing ground from which we’ll witness Yorke deservedly going atomic once again.

9/10

Words by MATTHEW BENNETT

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