Atoms for Peace unites Thom Yorke with a regular collaborator, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, and an unusual new one, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Is Yorke about to unleash his inner Californian jock-rocker? Well, no. There are no Chili Pepper-style displays of bodaciousness in Amok; instead the album fleshes out the spooked electronica of Yorke’s 2006 solo album The Eraser. “Before Your Very Eyes … ” sets the ball rolling with fidgety funk and Yorke crooning, “Look out of your window, see what’s passing you by” – an alienated presence framed by intriguingly urgent rhythms.

The contrasting dynamics continue throughout the album. On “Unless”, Yorke shrugs his shoulders in the face of an enigmatic disaster (“I couldn’t care, such a mess”) as electronic beats gather with ominous purpose around him. “Dropped”’s classy techno echoes Radiohead support act Caribou, while “Stuck Together Pieces” follows a jazzy bass line redolent of another Yorke crony, LA laptop-musician Flying Lotus. The electronic effects don’t always come off – one track appears to have been assaulted by a swarm of robotic bees – but the gripe is minor. Amok has an itchy, compulsive energy; it illuminates one of Yorke’s recurrent obsessions, the consequences of living in the technological age.

Atoms for Peace

Amok

(XL Recordings)

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