Amok review by Atoms For Peace

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  • Released: Feb 26, 2013
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 8.5 (65 votes)
Atoms For Peace: Amok
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Sound — 7
Atoms For Peace formed in 2009, but did not officially go by the name Atoms For Peace until mid 2010. The band has played several live performances since forming, originally performing mainly Thom Yorke's solo material. In late 2011 Thom Yorke and Flea stated they were finishing up an album. In September 2012, the single "Default" debuted on iTunes, and the entire album because available as a stream online on 02/18/2013, one week before the album officially releases on 02/26/2013. As a concept, the album is very interesting. Their first song ideas started with Thom playing electronic music he had been creating for the rest of the members and then they went about trying to recreate it with real instruments. When listening to the album you will hear that sometimes live instruments are playing the parts, and other times it is programmed but often the line is fuzzy where the real and the programmed begin and end. From a songwriting standpoint the album sounds a lot like recent Radiohead releases and Thom Yorke's solo material. The instrumentation is where the album has a more diverse sound; especially noticeable are the contributions by Flea on bass and the percussion work of Brazilian percussionist, Mauro Refasco. This is a pretty chilled out album, at times feeling melancholy, at others content, sometimes even a little uncomfortable but always chilled out.

These songs don't really come off like electronic music, and in my opinion this is because of the definite groove apparent in each track thanks to Flea and Mauro Refasco. While there are a LOT of electronic elements in the tracks, there is also a lot of real bass, a lot of real percussion, real guitar and very human vocals. It brings a more human face to music that was originally composed as electronic music. I honestly didn't expect to enjoy this album that much as it had been described to me as a project with Thom Yorke and Flea working on electronic music. While that definition might technically be true, it does a huge disservice to this album as these songs are beautifully composed, multi-textured and very human. I have played the album from front to back 4 times now, and will probably hit the play button again when it finishes this time.

Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are all performed by Thom Yorke, and I'm assuming they were written by him as well. If you've listened to Radiohead or Thom Yorke's solo material then you pretty much know what to expect here. He has a very haunting almost ethereal type of voice that seems to just kind of drift through his songs. There are no complaints from me on his vocal performance spot on job. The lyrics from "Judge Jury And Executioner" follow: "Don't worry baby/ It goes right through me/ I'm like the wind and my/ anger will disperse/ Thin persecutors/ Your twisted whispers/ A horned reptile that is crawling upon the earth/ I went for my usual walk/ just tell it like it is/ tell it like it was/ judge and jury, executioner/ judge and jury, executioner/ judge and jury/ when darkness follows/ and no tomorrows/ it's all been decided/ all spies deceptive/ all bouncing voices down the echo chamber/ don't worry baby/ it goes right through me/ I went for my usual walk/ I went around the block/ I just can't talk or reason with my executioner/ judge and jury, executioner/ judge and jury/ been wasting trails/ you talk in layers/ I went for my usual walk/ don't worry, laugh about/ just can't talk or reason with my executioner/ judge and jury executioner/ judge and jury/ don't worry baby/ it goes right through me/ I'm like the wind and my anger will disperse". This is pretty much standard fare for Thom's writing surreal and abstract with an underlying anxiety.

Overall Impression — 7
It is really difficult trying to pick out a favorite song from the album. The ones I am enjoying the most at the moment are "Before Your Very Eyes", "Ingenue", "Reverse Running" and the title track "Amok". I'm not really finding any tracks that I don't enjoy, but if anything I would say that I've heard the track "Default" quite a bit from the time it was released as a single so I am a little tired of it, but that is from my own repetition more than anything to do with the song. Really, and I can't explain why, this album reminds me of the album "Kid A" by Radiohead more than anything else. This is a solid release and definitely worth picking up when the official release date comes around in the meantime, I'm going to continue enjoying streaming it online.

You can stream album in full here.

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    rbramble18
    This was more like Thom's solo album "The Eraser" than it was like Kid A...I feel like it's one of those albums that will grow on me over time..."Ingenue" is a glorious track...
    onealsm
    This album is not even close to Kid A in both style and quality. It sounds like no Radiohead record, but it does sound like The Eraser.
    eazy-c
    The reviewer obviously hasn't listened to much good electronic music.
    unicornicopia
    This would be rated a lot higher if it was a metal album full of throwaway tracks, which is ****ed up, because this is a really fresh, innovative record, I've never heard anything like it. But that's UG.
    op4blushift
    Yeah its quite sad, but what can you expect from a site called ultimate GUITAR. Music like this which isn't exactly guitar heavy or has none at all (i know there's bits and pieces of it here and there, but its usually not in the forefront of the music)tends to get ignored or hated on.
    unicornicopia
    Okay, I'll give you that. But still, it's not really ultimate GUITAR so much as it is ultimate METAL.
    Jozef23
    At least a 9/10, it's a brilliant album. It's not too electronic because of the instrumentation but it's not rock because of the way it's done and produced. One of the best albums of 2013 so far
    Jozef23
    Also when you give an album 7.3/10 UG, you usually have to explain why it isn't a 10. That's the whole point of being a critic, to criticize the music. Basic positive comments about the album (like 'I'm not really finding any tracks that I don't enjoy') doesn't justify why you gave it a 7
    WaddleDeee
    Great album, UG needs to open up to other styles of music.
    katalyzt13
    What do you mean exactly? This looked like a positive review to me?
    third(-)eye
    The review is more positive than the actual rating. 7.3 is low for a project of this scope.
    WaddleDeee
    7.3 is kinda low as far as album scores go considering the kind of filler stuff that gets 8+ here every once in a while.
    Hungry_Hameds
    a website dedicate to rock needs to open up to other styles of music? why?? That's like saying Burger King should look into dispensing financial advice...
    third(-)eye
    This reviewer has never listened to Kid A if that's what he's comparing it to. It doesn't sound ANYTHING like album other than the fact that it's heavily electronic. Much more like TKOL or The Eraser.
    Kueller917
    It's got that King of Limbs/Eraser style, but I think for once it's done in a way that I've fully enjoyed. Need to give this more listens to take in all the tracks but so far I'm loving it.
    Vash_15
    I didn't like Kid A, so I think it makes sense that I wasn't too in to this. Also, this review is so bare bones, can the UG team please put some heart in to their reviews?
    fin ramage
    would you prefer creep?
    Vash_15
    Actually I kind of preferred In Rainbows/OK Computer. Kid A just took the experimental element a little too far for my taste.
    third(-)eye
    Even if you don't like Kid A you have to at least admit that Motion Picture Soundtrack is one of the most, if not the most, beautiful song they've ever recorded. Also, this record sounds nothing like Kid A IMO, this reviewer is full of it.
    Jozef23
    dude just because he didn't like Radiohead's most experimental album it doesn't mean he has to resort to the song that most Radiohead die-hards think is crap. Firstly Creep is a good Alt. Rock song. Secondly some tracks took a while to warm on me on Kid A. I'd still rather listen to The Bends, Ok Computer and In Rainbows over it. I do now love Kid A though, but that's my love for experimental.
    tomwebb0811
    Took me a few listens to get into, alike much of Yorke's work, but now I love it! A brilliant and interesting record!
    FlyingPirahna
    I like this album a lot more than the King of Limbs, but I do miss Thom's wider vocal range (since he seems to sing mostly in or near falsetto for most of the album).
    Josh100_3
    Eh, I feel like Thom really under utilised Flea on this record...
    THE BULGE
    I get what you mean but I think its more Flea playing a different style. That's what they both get out of it it wouldn't sound right with Flea over playing etc.
    onealsm
    It sounds like Flea is playing maybe one song on this album. Flea is more utilized in the live setting. Thom has said that the concept of Atoms for Peace is to record electronic-based music, and then try to convert it to real instruments in the live setting.
    onealsm
    just re-listened to it. flea does play more than i said originally.
    Jozef23
    He's like a ninja. Pops up the random places and when he does, he's freaking awesome
    prokacper
    I think: Great complex songs, interesting arrangements and I'd give 9/10 for that if not: -it's basically just Yorke's follow-up, he needn't have formed up a band for this -complication of beats in every song makes them sound like they're stuck in one place If only live performances changed this album like King of Limbs did change, I'd be on cloud nine.
    Dimarzio45
    It's your second point that leads me to my conclusion. It's too uneventful. I feel like there's nothing to look forward to. If it wasn't for that, I would feel completely different about this work.
    primus182
    its gonna be better LIVE, like king of limb. but i really miss thom's wider vocal range. miss the 2+2=5 era
    Dimarzio45
    Those songs are boring as hell. A beginner with Propellarhead's Reason could come up with beats, sequences and loops more interesting than that. It's cool Flea is involved though.
    unicornicopia
    That's funny, considering the vast majority of the rhythms on the record are ridiculously complex.
    Dimarzio45
    I don't know, maybe these two songs are bad examples. Or maybe it's just not for me. haha
    repoTHEemo
    I own Reason, version 6 actually. It's pretty darn tough to even come close to come up with these tunes without real instruments and innovation.
    Dimarzio45
    I just use redrum and work with layers. Sometimes multiple Redrum racks going at the same time. At least for the BEATS.