Music, movies and more: “Amok”

Jake Bethel

Atoms for Peace
Rating: 3.5/5

Super groups are an odd idea for me. I usually sleep on them because something inside me expects the result to be an over-polished talent-fest in which no one musician’s ideas are heard among the crowd, but rather everyone’s are audible simultaneously, like five people I respect all talking at once.

I’m glad I did not make that assumption with “Amok,” the highly anticipated debut of alt-rock super group Atoms for Peace. The group consists of Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Michael Peter Balzary – commonly known as Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Joey Waronker (session drummer for Beck and others), Nigel Godrich (Radiohead’s producer) and percussionist Mauro Refosco.

The opening track “Before Your Very Eyes…” begins with a looped guitar riff that relies as heavily on abrupt rests as it does notes. The cadence that ensues is reminiscent of “Bloom” from Radiohead’s 2011 album “The King of Limbs.” The comparison is difficult to overlook – experimentation stripped down to a colorful medley, just busy enough to work and never muddy.

“Ingenue,” the third track, opens up with a rather long keyboard loop that takes some time to process. Right when you think you know what’s coming next, Yorke happily sings above unorthodox percussion. For once, the sound of a dripping faucet is not something to keep you up at night, but a soothing continuity.

If “The King of Limbs” was a gloomy twilight overcast, “Amok” is a fanciful sunrise. Just as mysteriously accessible as any of Radiohead’s last five albums, “Amok” is a canvas covered in every color. With time the listener finds more and more intended concepts within the bustle, much like a finely detailed mural.