Sunday, 1 April 2007

Big Ideas from Radiohead - John Galantini

The other week, Radiohead sent waves of excitement across their internet-orientated fanbase when the band posted a photograph simply entitled 'mixing it', on their official website's blog, Dead Air Space. The photo, showed singer Thom Yorke stood outside, possibly in London, wearing a bodywarmer and tea-cosy hat. Although to most, this photograph may seem slightly irrelevant, it's title was for many, myself included, a thrilling clue as to the present production status of their forthcoming record, due for release later this year. The as-yet untitled record will be their seventh studio album, one which fans have been eagerly following it's production by way of the band's frequent Dead Air Space blog-postings, which have for the past 2 years, given insight into exactly what they are working on, often accompanied by personal photographs of the band at work.

Last summer, Radiohead went on tour, playing a few dates across Europe, then a full on trip around America. The shows were widely acclaimed, featuring a great deal of new songs, often as many as 6 per show. With the help of well-concealled mp3 recorders and camera-phones, fans made sure a great deal of the new material found its way onto the internet and in particular, the video website, giving eager fans all over the world, a taste of what is to come. New songs expected to feature on the next release include "Videotape", a fragile piano-centred peice on which Thom's excells himself both vocally and lyrically. "Down is the new up" is perhaps the most impressive of all the new material - the song starts with Thom Yorke beat-boxing followed by an irrestiable funk beat, curtosey of Phil Selway, with Jonny Greenwood up-chucking bar-chords in a slackened reggae style. Ed O'Brien's backing vocals are some of the most distinguishing he's provided, whilst Thom's stray into Prince territory toward its feindish ending. Others that must not be missed include "Bangers and Mash", "Bodysnatchers", "15 Step", "Open Pick" and "Arpeggi".

Amongst these promising new songs, are a few older pieces the band have been developing on-tour since as far back as the Ok Computer era. In particular, the much bootlegged "Nude / Big Ideas (Don't get any)" remains a massive favourite with both the band and their fans. Signs that it will finally find a home on the next record have never been more clearer. Whilst fansite forums, such as speculate the next album's track listing (and title!), Radiohead, accompanied by long-term producer, Nigel Godrich, guitar-tech 'Plank' and album artist Stanley Donwood, have toured the countrysides of England, stopping for weeks at a time, at various stately homes to set up their mobile studio and continue working on the songs. Quite where they are at this moment remains a mystery; we can only hope they are indeed near the end of what has been, for Radiohead fans, an exciting albiet long journey.

Perhaps another great mystery is not just when "LP7" will be released, by how and by whom? Radiohead's 6 album deal with EMI's Parlophone label, ended following the release of Hail To The Thief and whilst Warner-Chappell-Music have extended their contract to publish new Radiohead songs, the band are techincally unsigned at this time. XL recordings, home to The White Stripes, PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke's solo album, The Eraser, are one of the many indie-labels which have expressed a great deal of interest in signing Radiohead, (who have spoken of bitter feelings toward their former label and the music business in general) although there do not appear to have been any devolpments in this regard. Perhaps Radiohead will release their next record independantly, via their website This would in fact, be a world first! A major artist proving record labels are a thing of the past?

Only time will tell, and as summer 2007 quickly approaches, the world waits for the next Radiohead album...

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