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October 11, 2007 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-10-11

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The Michigan Daily I

michigandaily.com ( Thursday, October 11, 2007

Through the hype, Radiohead
makes sense of everything
By Chris Gaerig I Daily Music Editor

Radiohead won't
reinvent the music
industry, but small
stores could take a hit
Daily Arts Writer
The final nail in the coffin. The
big middle finger. The death of the
record industry. There's beenno lack
of hyperbole attached to Radiohead's
choice to release its highly antici-
pated album In Rainbows digitally,
without the aid of a record compa-
ny, and - maybe most shockingly
- allowing the buyer, er, listener, to
name his price for the album. Most
Internet pundits seem to think the
death of the music industry has
arrived, the tipping point finally
reached. But is this really the end for
the record companies? one heralded
band's album ends decades of label
The release is certainly ground-
breaking. Radiohead believes rely-
ing on word of digital mouth - blogs,
Pitchfork, the band's website - is
preferable to a record company to
promote its album. It's no secret the
members of Radiohead are outspo-
ken proponents of liberal causes.
Lead singer Thom Yorke incessantly
blogs about his dislike for the Bush
Administration, the world's poor
environmental policy and the need
for fair trade. So it comes as no sur-
prise the group would be anti-big
business and, therefore, anti-major
What is surprising is thatthe band
skipped out on any record company
at all. It had been speculated that
Radiohead mayselect atinyindepen-
dent label to market its upcoming,
mandatory chart-topper. The notion
would have fit well with the band's
mindset: Avoid big business while
helping an indie record company
reach instant prosperity and star-
dom. But maybe that was part of the
problem. By selectingone unknown
label to distribute the record in just a
night's span, the label would wake to
find millions of dollars at its bedside
and thus another devil-incarnate
record companies would be born.
But even with all the method-
ology behind the album's release,
people forgetthis is Radiohead we're
talking about - possibly the biggest
band in the world with one of the
greatest followings. For a startup
indie band, the online release of an
album would be worthless. MySpace
essentially plays this role and rarely,
if ever, have we seen a band come to
fruition through some sample songs
placed on a site geared toward teens
and stalkers.

"The Devil Came on
Horseback" is a filmic
journey into the tragedy
in Darfur, Sudan, where
black Africans are being
systemically killed. Follow
the events through exclu-
sive photographs and the
personal testimony of U.S.
Marine Captain Brian Stei-
dIe. It will play for three
days starting this Sunday,
$6.75 with student ID.

The Daily Arts
guide to the best
upcoming events
- it's everywhere
you should be this
weekend and why.

his album doesn't make collapsing
sense. The way it was none of the
recorded, the way it nect to the
album is a
was assembled, * widely col
the music moments a
itself. None of Radiohead As recoi
it makes any has been ti
sense. In Rainbows '90s - circ
It's heart- Computer
breaking. It's Rainbows
gorgeously according
optimistic. It's as soft as it is, "Nude," "
loud. It's subtly bombastic. It "Faust ARP
just doesn't make sense. the guitar-
But such is the tradition and puter, whe
legacy of Radiohead. A group "Reckoner"
obviously aware of its foundation cent of th
of sonic mystery, astronomical KidA/Amn
complexity and intensely loyal But as ar
cult fan base, Radiohead has no less the tr:
fear. It's the onjy group that can Bends and h
legitimatelyattempt InRainbows Computer
- given its expansive career and this album
the album's unorthodox release ized as suc
- and get away with it. But as strangely
this latest, Internet-only release Radiohead
(for now) is entirely enigmatic ily likened
and essentially impossible to wave after
understand among its predeces- ing ashore
sors, so too is Radiohead itself engulfing e
In Rainbows, whether Radio- This albur
head released it as such or not, feels like
is not an album in the traditional ment by th
sense. Nothing about this disc something
breathes cohesiveness. Its move- swept away
ments are shaky, aggressive and recordings
dance finds
free reign
For the Daily
In one corner, four or five guys in beanies,
zip-upS and Vans are b-buying. Across the
room, slim girls in dance
pants bend and snap out
jazz dance moves with easy Improv Jam
But it's what's happening Tomorrow
in the middle of the room at8 p.m.
that has everyone's atten-
tion. A paraplegic couple is Atthe Betty Pease
moving on the floor, bend- Bane luiding,
ing with the music while a StudisOse
few dancers weave around
and between them. They
are just as much a part of the dance as anyone
else - an essential part, even, because they
move in ways no one else can, and with a bold-
ness that even the dance majors can't seem to
This is the Improv Jam.
The Jamis what you might call "free impro-

- and, more telling,
m even remotely con-
other. In essence, this
a mixtape: a mass of
lected, disconnected
ligned in single-file.
rding for this album
raced back to the late
a the masterpiece OK
- the entirety of In
can be broken down
to prior releases.
Bodysnatchers" and
P" obviously speak to
driven days of Com-
reas "15 Step" and
"are more reminis-
ce glitchy, electronic
esiac period.
n album that's more or
ansition between The
Kid A - assuming OK
was never released,
would've material-
h - In Rainbows feels
Put of place in 2007.
's career is most eas-
to the coming tides:
wave of power, crash-
e, wiping away and
verything in its path.
m, at least at times,
a retroactive move-
e group, searching for
that had already been
y by years and years of

But this shouldn't be con-
sidered a wholly unfortunate
development, because, by most
standards, Radiohead's best days
are long since past. Recreating
the paranoid beauty of OK Com-
puter seems impossible until you
hear the romantic "Nude." The
track's cumulous strings and
bobbing bass are heartbreaking,
yet sunnier than earlier work.
You don't listen to the song, you
float through it. It engulfs your
every sense and wraps you up
like an anxious lover. "15 Step"
is similarly nostalgic. Its jazzy
undertones give way to percus-
sively driven twerps and twitch-
Yet with all its familiar piec-
es, it's increasingly difficult to
view in Rainbows as a Radiohead
release. Shedding the mantra of
several of its previous records
(an overarching concept contex-
tualizing each disc), the album
stands afar from Radiohead's
other work. It plays as a coalesc-
ing retrospective rather than a
unique, unified album. And yet
seemingly without prior knowl-
edge of Radiohead's catalog,
In Rainbows would be a rather
easily accessible collection, the
most striking contradiction in
this heap of contradictions.
But maybe In Rainbows is the

You can name your price and download the
album at www.inrainbows.com.
Radiohead is close to securing a deal with a
label to release a physical version of In Rain-
bows. More info to come,
The band is offering a "discbox" package,
$80, for in Rainbows: a two-record set, a CD
and an enhanced CD with bonus tracks. The
packaging looks like a hardcover book. It's
scheduledto ship Dec. 3.
full realization of Radiohead's
prolific career. A career that
travels sinusoidally rather than
in disconnected movements.
With its spacious lines weav-
ing back upon themselves, this
album has finally reached the
crest of the wave once again
- a point seemingly first met,
though more magnificently, with
OK Computer.
Maybe this album doesn't
make sense. Or maybe it makes
sense of everything.

American fiction writer
and essayist Charles
D'Ambrosio, well-known
for his short-story collec-
tion "The Point," will be
reading tonight at 5 p.m.
at the Rackham Ampi-
theatre as part of the Zell
visiting Writers Series.
The event is free.

Tony Award-winning
musical "Big River," based
on Mark Twain's "Huck-
leberry Finn," has seen
nearly 20 years of success
on Broadway and will-be
performed by the Dept.
of Musical Theatre this
weekend at the Mendels-
sohn Theatre. Thursday
through Sunday, tickets
are $9 with student ID.

Detroit native and Gram-
my-award winning Dianne
Reeves is coming to Hill
Auditorium Saturday at 8
p.m. The world-renowned
jazz singer - especially
known for her "world
music" sound - will per-
form with musicians Billy
Childs, Reuben Rogers,
Gregory Hutchinson and
Romero Lubambo. Tickets
are $10-48.

Students perform at last month's Improv Jam, where nothing is a surprising sight.


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