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February 9, 2004 5:33 AM   Subscribe

Electronic music buffs cite Radiohead's Kid A as their best work. How many know that Idioteque, arguably the stand-out track owes a debt to Paul Lansky, sampling as it does Lansky's Mild Und Leise [mp3 file], a track composed in 1973 on an IBM 360/91 mainframe. I didn't. Should you find your interest piqued, you might want to read an interview with Lansky. If that was then, this is now: The excellent music video to Zeal [Quicktime] by Plaid, which, although a very different beast, is an excellent indicator of how far electronic music has come. [Probably NSFW].
posted by nthdegx (42 comments total)

 
I don't think anyone who knows even a little about electronic music (including the band themselves) think that Radiohead is at the head of the movement...

All they do is filter out the wierdest bits, add hooks and sell to a mass (though shrinking) audience. Which is good, obviously, but that's as far as it goes.
posted by ascullion at 5:57 AM on February 9, 2004


Great links. Great FPP. Great.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:02 AM on February 9, 2004


I'd say Electronic music buffs cite Radiohead's Kid A as an embarrassing, borderline insulting, attempt to garner credibility by bolting almost comically outdated electronica tropes onto their tedious pop dirge music. But that's what buffs always think about the object of their buffing when makes it mainstream.

That said, the Lansky connection goes some way to suggest that they're genuine in their exploration of electronic music - I remember shuddering at the time the album was released when the band constantly namechecked Aphex Twin and Autechre, as if they'd just bought Now That's What I Call Electronica Vol. 97 and ripped off a few ideas to irritate their fanbase.
posted by jack_mo at 6:06 AM on February 9, 2004


Sorry, ascullion, I don't think I stated once that Radiohead were even approacing the head of the movement, but if I did then I most certainly take it back.
posted by nthdegx at 6:06 AM on February 9, 2004


Not to dictate the content of the discussion, but this is not reaaaally about Radiohead. Take it as read that I meant to say "some electronic music buffs..." as I could cite many that do think it is Radiohead's best work (notice that that isn't a judgement on how good the record actually is). I'm sure there are also many that don't. Again, I don't think I said anything that implies I meant all electronic music buffs - but just to clarify - as people are always determined to insert subtexts that don't exist and read between lines where there are no gaps - that is definitely *not* what I meant. Ta...
posted by nthdegx at 6:11 AM on February 9, 2004


Radiohead does electronica?

WHY THE HELL DIDN'T YOU ALL TELL ME???

Next thing you know, Will Shatner and Leonard Nimoy will be releasing music.

:-)
posted by shepd at 6:12 AM on February 9, 2004


Hey, don't worry nthdegx. We're just having a good time, is all...
posted by shepd at 6:13 AM on February 9, 2004


That's OK - just clarifying my pov
posted by nthdegx at 6:14 AM on February 9, 2004


great post. thanks.
posted by whatnot at 6:30 AM on February 9, 2004


I'm an electronic music buff (check out my badge if you don't believe me ;p). Popular opinion amongst my peers is that Radiohead is pretty nifty, but far from the "best work" of the genre. I think perhaps the original poster was having some monday morning grammar issues, and meant to say that Kid A was Radiohead's best work?

Personally, I don't like it. The weird noises are cool, but the "Radiohead" part bores me to tears.
posted by dvdgee at 6:32 AM on February 9, 2004


Hey, nthdegx, if you had offered a post saying something about Jerry Seinfeld... even if just barely, there would certainly be a posse of posters popping in just to tell you how un-funny Jerry really is. "That is, if you know anything about comedy".

It happens every time. Nice post.
posted by Witty at 6:35 AM on February 9, 2004


Popular opinion amongst my peers is that Radiohead is pretty nifty, but far from the "best work" of the genre. I think perhaps the original poster was having some monday morning grammar issues, and meant to say that Kid A was Radiohead's best work

"Electronic music buffs cite Radiohead's Kid A as their best work"

Not wishing to take the mickey but who is having grammar issues? I have no idea how you could derive best-of-genre from anything I said.

*dives back into foxhole*
posted by nthdegx at 6:36 AM on February 9, 2004


Great post! I knew about Radiohead, and I knew about Lansky, but I had no idea one had sampled the other. Very interesting, especially Lansky's mp3 page.

To assist nthdegx in clarification: I think the post says that Kid A is Radiohead's best work, not that Kid A is the best electronica work out there.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:37 AM on February 9, 2004


I don't even go that far - IMO the bends and ok computer are both better - I'm just saying that in the eyes of electronic-heads it's often considered the best work. Being an electronic-head myself I'm an exception to that "rule")
posted by nthdegx at 7:04 AM on February 9, 2004


"considered the best work"... of Radiohead
posted by nthdegx at 7:05 AM on February 9, 2004


Yet another Plaid video that just screams "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!"
posted by qDot at 7:09 AM on February 9, 2004


Oooh! Lovely. I was not aware of Lansky before. Thanks, nthdegx.
posted by carter at 7:29 AM on February 9, 2004


"Electronic music buffs cite Radiohead's Kid A as their best work."

Nothing confusing or grammar challenged in that statement. You would have to (foolishly) think "their" refers back to Electronic music buffs rather than Radiohead to get anything but the intended meaning from this statement.

And again, great FPP. Many thanks. Ignore the trolls and critics.
posted by Outlawyr at 7:38 AM on February 9, 2004


Ditto what witty, carter and monju said.
Good post.
Thx
posted by a3matrix at 7:56 AM on February 9, 2004


...drop the bass...everybody is in the place...
posted by ejoey at 8:01 AM on February 9, 2004


Radiohead is good music. Seinfeld is funny. Fuck indie cred. I'm so fucking anti-indie non-hip, I'm outsider indie. Fuck yeah.

This was an interesting link.
posted by Slagman at 8:14 AM on February 9, 2004


ejoey: has cylob done anything worthwhile since 'Cylobian Sunsets'?
posted by xmutex at 9:11 AM on February 9, 2004


I'm an electronic head myself, and although i don't really listen to Radiohead much i do think that Kid A is some of their best work. And i hadn't seen that video by Plaid before, that's some cool stuff!

Good Post!
posted by escher at 9:19 AM on February 9, 2004


Really great post!

All they do is filter out the wierdest bits, add hooks and sell to a mass (though shrinking) audience. Which is good, obviously, but that's as far as it goes.

Hardly. I saw Radiohead a couple of months ago at Madison Square Garden, and it was one of the ten best concerts I'd ever seen -- powerful, inventive, musically adventurous, earnest, technically brilliant -- out of many many hundreds, encompassing everybody from Terry Riley to Janis Joplin to Bill Evans to Ravi Shankar to John Cage to Andras Schiff... I'll shut up now.

But Radiohead is not easily dismissed.
posted by digaman at 9:43 AM on February 9, 2004


Incapable of producing not a single hummable tune since 'ok computer' , Radiohead are rapidly transforming into Marillion , with calculators.

When the Pixies and Radiohead share a stage at colcachella , we'll see who the daddy is !


/fanboy
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:55 AM on February 9, 2004


Incapable of producing not a single hummable tune since 'ok computer'

Hail to the Thief has a number of "hummable" tunes (right from the first track to about track 5, then it picks up again at There, There and Punch Up). You get the impression that by the time they were working on HttT, the novelty of the "Kid A sound" had worn off them and they started using electronic instrumentation more to set the mood than be the entire song.

That said, even Amnesiac and Kid A have their "hummers" (Pyramid Song, Optimistic, and Morning Bell for instance).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:32 AM on February 9, 2004


Nthdegx,

Sorry, didn't mean to get things off badly, I liked the FPP!

I thought the subtext of the post was "Radiohead are great, but they're CHARLATANS dabbling in something they don't understand - look, they STOLE THIS! And fooled you all". Ahem. One often hear that sort of thing. Sorry to misunderstand.

Me? I love Radiohead, digaman - two of their shows make in into my top ten gigs of all time list. Squarepusher's cool too though.

Shuts up..
posted by ascullion at 10:36 AM on February 9, 2004


Incapable of producing not a single hummable tune since 'ok computer'


You're so right. I have seen the light. Now I'm headed to my record shelf and it's OUT with the Bartok, the Coltrane, the late Miles, the Steve Reich, the Ornette, the post-Green World Eno, the...

More room for Yeah Yeah Yeahs records!
posted by digaman at 10:47 AM on February 9, 2004


goddammit, the "their" is ambiguous. "Electronic music heads" is clearly the subject of the sentence. Bah humbug!

err, but actually, yeah, great post ;p
posted by dvdgee at 11:35 AM on February 9, 2004


Radiohead began their experimentation with electronic sounds with OK Computer. (OK, computer... time to use you now...)

Electronic music is a very fractured genre. Do you call Kid A an electronic work because Radiohead used a drum machine and sequencer on some tracks? (rap, pop, RnB, and just about anything with produced beats and a live singer can be put in this camp... Eminem's line "nobody listens to techno" was funny because that song *was* Techno...

On the flip side of that coin are bands like Four Tet... that supplant thier mass of machines and software with a couple of "real" instruments.

Then you have everything inbetween from repetitive dance "music" to the abstract art/sounds of IDM.

When you look at it that way, eletronic music is the most diverse genre out there.
posted by LoopSouth at 12:43 PM on February 9, 2004


Incapable of producing not a single hummable tune since 'ok computer' , Radiohead are rapidly transforming into Marillion , with calculators.

Please sarge. Let's not insult Marillion.

And, oh yeah, techno still sucks.
posted by jonmc at 1:37 PM on February 9, 2004


Radiohead's electronic music gets even more interesting when you consider their interest (or Jonny Greenwood's interest) in vintage electronic instruments like the theremin and the ondes martenot.

Now, for a shameless plug, Lansky has written an essay on Radiohead for a book I've edited.
posted by josephtate at 1:53 PM on February 9, 2004


This interview with Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke from The Wire about the production of Kid A is kinda interesting.
posted by dydecker at 2:27 PM on February 9, 2004


techno still sucks.

Just like your mother.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:33 PM on February 9, 2004


I love mefi music threads, as by the end of the day everyone feels insulted.

PS: Your favorite [insert band or genre] sucks.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:48 PM on February 9, 2004


Note that Mild Und Leise, and Lansky's electronic stuff in general, was unstructured and non-melodic. The hook from Idioteque is used in an entirely different role than it was in the original, so they really didn't use any of his innovation, just discovered a sound that would be great in a vastly different context, as a DJ would.
posted by abcde at 2:53 PM on February 9, 2004


the moment you begin to intellectualise music , you've stopped listening.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:05 PM on February 9, 2004


Lansky liked it, by all accounts.

*tries not to compose frothing at the mouth fangirlish defence of Radiohead and maintain decorum in the face of extreme provocation*

For what it's worth, the band themselves had never claimed to be electronic music innovators, and have namechecked Autechre and Aphex Twin both as influences and as artists they admire rather than as artists who they might believe they have supplanted.

Jonny Greenwood interviews the ondeiste Jeanne Loriod, sister in law of Messaien. (Note: fangirl warning for rest of site, explore at your own peril)
posted by jokeefe at 3:14 PM on February 9, 2004


In retrospect, I was a bit harsh on that site-- the blog is no where near as fangirlish as I expected from the front page. And it's Messiaen. Mea culpa.
posted by jokeefe at 3:23 PM on February 9, 2004


the moment you begin to intellectualise music , you've stopped listening.

And started understanding. You can do both, it's okay.
posted by kindall at 3:53 PM on February 9, 2004


im terribly sorry , but then one is reacting with ones head , rather than ones heart.

yes, i will continue to provoke you on this issue, but let us first wait for the reviews from the colcachella festival.
Although may i say in artistic terms , the canon of the pixies towers majestically above the small , shrivelled garden gnome of creative output that comes from any member of radiohead.

come on pilgrim

surfer rosa

doolittle

bossanova

trompe le monde

solo works:

teenager of the year

last splash

dog in the sand

each of these albums easily outclasses any meagre gruel served from the radiohead soup kitchen.

ripped off by nirvana , radiohead, covered by bowie , the pixies are pele to radioheads charlie nicholas.

btw marillion were neil's favorite band , i rest my case. (sorry jon)
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:13 PM on February 9, 2004


the pixies are pele to radioheads charlie nicholas.

And the Replacements are Joe Montana to both of them!
posted by jonmc at 7:05 AM on February 10, 2004


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