musicforwolves (musicforwolves) wrote,

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Radiohead - An Ongoing Experiment

     I'm a big fan of musical conspiracy theories. I like listening to songs backward, sometimes just for the hell of it. I leaped at the 'Dark Side of the Rainbow' bandwagon like it was made of tiramisu (that bandwagon refers to the conspiracy theory that Pink Floyd's album The Dark Side of the Moon makes an astounding soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz, if you start the album at the precise moment that Leo, the MGM lion, roars for the third time before the opening credits). And yet, this sort of this has always struck a troubling chord with me. The origins of 'Dark Side of the Rainbow' are mysterious to the point that describing them as 'unknown' is almost correct, but when one thinks about it, how could something like that start? Stoner A wants to watch a musical, Stoner B wants to listen to the Floyd, but the turntable and the VHS player are in the same room, and all of a sudden both their eyes light up (or glaze over, whichever is more appropriate)?
     The problem with these kind of theories is that they require a coincidence beyond anything imaginable. If the connection between Pink Floyd and Judy Garland is as evident as some commentators seem to think, then there should presumably be more clues to suggest that. I have tried to test that conspiracy theory, and beyond a few eerie coincidences, very little exists to evidence such a connection. Yeah, the first time you listen to the album (the length of the film is about 2 and 2/3 the length of the album) there are a number of times when you think 'there could be something to this' but that also involves ignoring the massive number of times when no such synchronicities occur. What I'm about to test, however, is somewhat different and, if the stories are correct, actually deliberate.

     I love Radiohead's music, but a few things have always bothered me. The opening track of 1997's OK Computer is named 'Airbag', and ends with four electronic beats, a 'pip-pip-pip-pip' that sounds like it's counting into something. And then? Nothing. The next track, 'Paranoid Android' has absolutely no connection to those four beats, as though there was always meant to be something there that never quite happened. And this theory answers that.
     Ten years after the release of OK Computer (1997), Radiohead released In Rainbows (10/10/07). They gave ten days warning of the release of the latter album, and released a number of messages in the days prior to the release of the album: most of them semaphore characters revealing messages which emphasised the letter X. Both 'OK Computer' and 'In Rainbows' contain ten letters. There are ten tracks on In Rainbows, the cover spaces the word 'RADIOHEAD' so that the 'IO' is distinct from the rest of the word, and the working title for OK Computer was 'Ones and Zeroes'. In other words, it's possible to read a connection between the two albums centred around the number ten.
     The good folks over at organised the two albums into two halves of ten songs, alternating between songs from OK Computer and In Rainbows (with a two-song divider that contained the songs from the middle of the first album, 'Karma Police' and 'Fitter Happier'). Why this precise arrangement, it's unclear, but supposedly the two albums can be rolled into one mammoth album that reads as a coherent whole.

     So, let's give it a shot. I've got both albums here, and the apparent ordering of the songs. Let's go.
Tags: music, review

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