Radiohead’s finest creation hidden in secrecy.
I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories. Mainly because the people that tend to come up with them, well, tend to be whack. With the explosion of blogs and social networking sites, a rumour can be started quicker than you can scream foul, and often by people that you definitely wouldn’t sit next to on the tram. However, sometimes, people get it right, and the internet provides the perfect medium to share their discoveries with the rest of the world. So when I heard the rumour of a hidden Radiohead ‘super album’ circulating around, I had to investigate. After all, it’s Radiohead; and if there is a band on this planet that’s controlled by aliens, it’s them. It all begins with the number ten. The release of their first independent release, In Rainbows (after fulfilling their six album contract with EMI) was announced only 10 days beforehand. Furthermore, there were nine cryptic messages released with the album, all emphasising the letter X (Xendless Xurbia, March Wa X), which you will know if you paid attention in high school is the letter for the roman numeral 10. And the release date for the album? 10/10/07, 10 years after the release of their classic Ok Computer. Are those too many tens to ignore? So here’s the idea. Ok Computer and In Rainbows were always meant to complement each other. In fact, the songs were written so that you can alternate tracks from album to album. And drawing from the cryptic clues, you are meant to do this for the first ten tracks, that is until you reach ‘Karma Police’ on Ok Computer. So the playlist will look like this: 1.Airbag2.15 step3.Paranoid Android4.Bodysnatchers5.Subterrenean Homesick Alien6.Nude7.Exit Music (For a film)8.Weird Fishes/Arpeggi 9.Let Down10.All I need To get the full effect of the songs combined this way, you’re meant to crossfade them by 10 seconds. Or so the rumour goes. The problem, I thought, with this is that you could do this and it will sound alright but there won’t really be a sure way to know if it was Radiohead’s real intent. In my moment of doubt however, I found a quote that I’m sure helped fuel these rumours. Someone close to lead singer Thom Yorke commented on these theories, saying Thom is annoyed “That no one ‘gets it’ yet, given the mountain of clues.” To me this was proof enough. I had one thing left to do. I mixed down the tracks, with a crossfade of 10 seconds and had a listen. It blew my head right off! It wasn’t that the songs fitted! It was like I was hearing the songs for the first time! (I’ve listened to both albums countless times.) The different musical styles, even the themes fitted together like a jigsaw falling into place, creating a new picture altogether. “I am born again. In an interstellar burst I am back to save the universe” Thom Yorke assures us on the opening track, ‘Airbag’. While he won’t succeed in that, he will effectively implode your brain in the following 45 minutes. The transitions between the songs are all different; some flowing better than others, but somehow, it all fits together. ‘15 Steps’ fades into ‘Paranoid Android’ smoother than chocolate mousse is at your favourite restaurant, while ‘Exit Music’ is followed by a healthy pause before ‘Weird Fishes’ kicks in with yet another bizarre drumbeat from Phil Selway. Lyrically there is definitely a contrast overall; Ok Computer being an ironic reflection of society, while In Rainbows is a personal odyssey highlighting the obsessions of love. Nevertheless, some songs tie together beautifully. ‘Exit Music’ sings of lovers escaping together, “Today we escape, we escape” and ‘Weird Fishes’ is a melancholy reflection on love; “I’d be crazy not to follow. Follow where you lead. Your eyes…I’ll hit the bottom and escape”. The fade to the final song, ‘All I Need’ is absolutely flawless, the tone and atmosphere match perfectly and should be proof to all the doubters that this is not one big coincidence.The reason this interlacing of the albums really works is because of the different textures of the two albums, the different lyrical themes. Both OK Computer and In Rainbows are masterpieces in their own right, but they combine to surpass the sum of the constituents. It’s like chocolate-orange-mousse; it’s better than either chocolate mousse or an orange by itself. You know what they each taste like and what it feels like to consume them, but you can’t possibly fathom the awesomeness of their combination until you try it (you may not like chocolate orange mousse, but that just highlights the fact that both food and music are completely subjective experiences). Is this Radiohead’s finest creation? Listen and find out for yourself. – Andy Szollosi