Published on February 22nd, 2013 | by greg0
Atoms For Peace: AMOK:: Review
The term supergroup is a cringe-worthy term. It’s a bad word to use around music circles because it conjures images of excess and lousy albums. Thankfully, Atoms For Peace, the supergroup featuring Thom Yorke, Flea, Joey Waronker, Mauro Refosco, Nigel Godrich dodge the bullet with AMOK by crafting a densely produced and rewarding affair. Atoms For Peace first worked with Yorke on his solo effort The Eraser and after discovering a certain amount of chemistry, opted to record together as a proper group. All things aside, AMOK does sound like the logical progression of Yorke’s first solo album but if you’re willing to dig deeper, you’ll find there’s more going on that a pair of decent headphones will help you discover.
The afro-beat opener “Before Your Very Eyes” quickly captures your attention with Yorke’s skittery guitar crossed with Flea’s propulsive bass lines. The clattering percussion of “Before Your Very Eyes” could have easily threatened the melody but is handled deftly as Yorke’s vocals get the center stage. “Default” feels like it could have been a Radiohead b-side as it’s song structure is somewhat similar to “Bloom” from The King of Limbs. “Ingenue” comes off as more of a band effort as Yorke’s vocals run criss cross patterns around a percolating rhythm that gets overrun by a sneaky synth line.
Elsewhere, the obvious contenders for album highlights come in the form of “Dropped” and “Stuck Together Pieces” which feel more alive than their technologically altered brethren. “Dropped” builds and builds until there’s a release and then it quickly recedes into the digital ether. The descending bass line of “Stuck Together Pieces” burrows into your noggin like an ear worm. Once it has taken root, it flowers into an unexpected jazzy interlude. As the album prepares to close, Yorke’s miserablism is on display in the form of “Judge, Jury and Executioner” as well as the “Reverse Running.” “Reverse Running” devolves into a swarm of electronic bees at times which tends to feel a little gimmicky. The closer “AMOK” dronily closes out the proceedings as if it was beamed from outer space. The shifting percussion nearly drowns out Yorke’s vocals which are almost reduced to a falsetto-like croon and although that’s the point, it felt somewhat meandering.
When AMOK works, the band nails it. What will be interesting is to the see the direction that Atoms For Peace takes or if it remains a distraction between other commitments.