Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Eraser – Thom Yorke

I’m sure you know who Thom Yorke is. No? He’s the guy with the fragile, tenor voice singing in all of those Radiohead albums you love. Now, did you know that he has a solo album out? Yes, it’s called The Eraser. And I’ll say it right now. It’s not a Radiohead album. Although, from time to time, you couldn’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if Yorke took all of it to the band. On the other hand, I’m glad he didn’t. Cause The Eraser is a hell of a record.
If I had to use just one word to describe the album, it would be “grey”. I guess that’s not all that surprising knowing that it’s Thom Yorke. The 9-track record relies mostly on “beats and electronics”, as Yorke puts it. And, I have to point this out, The Eraser is a complete album rather than just a compilation of songs – a tactic which, unfortunately is used widely in the industry nowadays. The record freely explores the vertical while always maintaining the same plane, never losing sight of the broad message. The Eraser, as a whole is a ghostly voice singing the melancholic songs of a man living alone in a dimly lit room. Unearthly sounds rising straight from the core of this earth.  Some tracks like The Clock has a lack of symmetry that makes perfect sense. Others, like Analyze, Black Swan and Harrowdown Hill (named after the woods where Dr David Kelly committed suicide) reverberates the existentialist and absurd thoughts that have been floating around in the universe. Then you have And It Rained All Night, which looks on as New York is submerged in a post-Katrina wreckage: there's a compelling tension between the ambivalence of the lyrics - "how come it looks so beautiful?" - and the music's repeating misery. Or the minimalist beauty of Atoms For Peace posing a contrast to the sweetened motif in the chorus. Or the beautiful synth swell at the beginning of Cymbal Rush where you can almost see the majestic volcano eruptingin slow motion; the bright lave lighting up this otherwise dull, overcast day. And even the sad realization of the truth hidden behind the title track. The Eraser is, without a doubt, a specialist album. But within its limited scope of structure is a sad beauty that will take you to a parallel universe, where the music will envelope you until you realize that you’re the only one there. You’re all alone.
Standout songs: Atoms For Peace, Harrowdown Hill, Black Swan.

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