42 minutes | May 22, 2019

Sonic Allusions in "Idioteque" and "Pyramid Song"

After the wild success of OK Computer, Radiohead was under immense pressure from critics and fans to provide a worthy follow-up. Several hoped for an OK Computer part two, with the same intricate, guitar-based melodies. But the band was burnt out. After several years of touring and promoting their third record, Thom Yorke became ill, and Phil Selway said the band was worried that their success had turned them into a one-trick band. Plus, according to Colin Greenwood, the band felt like they needed to completely reinvent themselves after other groups began adopting OK Computer-esque sounds.Disillusioned with rock music, and feeling the genre had run its course, Yorke turned to electronica artists like Aphex Twin. Their emphasis on sounds and textures over melody and lyrics intrigued Yorke. So he put down his guitar, sat down at the piano, and began experimenting. The first song he wrote was “Everything In Its Right Place,” which would become the opening track on Kid A. This album revolutionized Radiohead’s sound and was later heralded as the best album of its decade by both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork.In this episode we'll learn about the layers of musical history embedded in Radiohead's work from this period. Bob Fink, chair of the Music Industry Minor at UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music, will discuss the musical influences that formed “Idioteque” and suggest how Kid A as a whole precursors contemporary music. Then we’ll hear from another musicologist from the UCLA School of Music: Jessica Schwartz. She’ll examine “Pyramid Song,” which was also developed during the Kid A sessions. Although recorded during the same period as “Idioteque,” it was not released until the following year on the band’s follow-up record, Amnesiac. And in contrast to the electronica of “Idioteque,” “Pyramid Song” bears a greater resemblance to the music of jazz greats like Charles Mingus.
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