Release: February 25, 2013
Disclaimer: This is not a musical critique, but a personal journey with a piece of art.
Four Words, Two Names: Thom Yorke and Flea. Enough said. Period. I mean really what more could you want more than those four words to have a reason to listen to an album.
Where to begin, where to begin? I guess the start is as good as any. I’ll be honest here, I bought AMOK by Atoms for Peace on vinyl in and Urban Outfitter. Please hold the rebukes and the insults I know I’m the lowest form of music lover, worse than even the hipsters. To quote Tyrion Lannister “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” Imp, maybe you’ve got something right, I ought to own everything I am. To be fair though, the only reason I bought it was because of the free album download because I couldn’t listen to it on Spotify. The purchase came during winter break of last year; I didn’t even have a record player at the time, but I put in on my Ipod and couldn’t stop listening to it.
It became my anthem: my mantra. After winter break and returning to Bloomington it became the album I flipped on before walking to class every single day (I lived in the Villas, so I had a while to walk), it was a crutch for me. Day in day out, I would hear the up tempo electronically produced beats followed by the delayed low frequency, heavy bass of “Before Your Very Eyes…” uttered into my ears “Take a look out the window what’s passing you by”. Every day the message drove harder and harder into my mind and it came to me at an incredibly altered time of my life. To put my anxieties and other issues in a non-rambling normal perspective it would be like a minnow trying to survive in the Atlantic Ocean. I was lost. I was worried. Factor in it we were amidst possibly the worst winter in my history and the seasonal depression was knocking my spirits too. When I would hear that song, it was as if I was staring down the barrel of a gun with a flower poking out the top as if to say I’m going to do this nicely, but if you don’t listen to my message I will blow your head off. Not to say that the music made me feel threatened, but how the lyrics hit home put an important message in front of my face. Granted, this was only the first song and I was feeling this way.
Lyrically, when you get to songs like “Default” and Yorke falsettos “The will is strong but the flesh is weak” I can’t help but get weak knees at the how closely it related. Paired with the lyrical styles of “Unless” and “Stuck Together Pieces” when the air waves bellow “Careless, I couldn’t careless” and “Our stuck together pieces/ The joke is I don’t need this/ You can hardly tell the difference”. All I could do was feel as if Atoms for Peace knew every single inch my life had taken up, every action, every thought, every transformation, and every insecurity. Every song made sense to how I perceived the world at that moment. Time and time again I would trudge through the snow and slush glazy eyed, hung-over if not still inebriated from the night before, and hear all these exactly on point messages come through my earlobes calling me to action to change my life and figure out what the fuck I wanted.
Enough of that sappy shit. As I mentioned at the beginning it’s Thom Yorke and Flea, if you know either or both very well I bet you can guess some of the sounds. AMOK finds it home in the “experimental” genre of music, but what the fuck is that anyway, am I right? Genres aside, within AMOK, you’ll find what you would expect, interestingly creepy, dancey, and for the most part up tempo beats paired with intensely prominent thumping Flea bass lines adding up to an insanely unique sound that amplifies the lyrics Thom Yorke resonates to the listener.
P.S. – In my eyes AMOK would have a 7/7 rating because for me it will forever capture a time of my life. For everyone else, this is no In Rainbows or Blood Sugar Sex Magic, so I gave it a fair rating on that scale.