Thursday, 11 October 2007

Radiohead - "In Rainbows"

Got hold of the new album In rainbows last night. This is a huge musical event -- the internet is buzzing with excitement that only a band like Radiohead can generate. Do a blog search for the album name, and you'll see blog posts and comments pouring in from all around the globe.

One listen through and it sounds very promising. It's hard to pick standout tracks at this stage, and I'm sure it will need about 3-4 listens before I can comment on the album as a whole. I guess the track which stood out for me on first listen was the haunting ballad Faust arp, which has a great cello (I think?) part throughout. Despite sounding like a cousin to I will (from 2003's Hail to the thief), it also sounds unlike anything they have ever released.

The album starts out with an Amnesiac-esque burst of electronica, which I'll admit did get me a little worried; I can now safely say this is probably their least electronic album since OK computer. Not to say it's a retread to more guitar-based territory, just that the experiments of the last few albums (Backdrifts, The gloaming, Pulk/pull revolving doors) seem to have been toned down in favour of actual songs.

I must admit that I cheated a little bit with the album - last week I previewed live versions of these songs which were available on this website. I was in two minds about doing this; I didn't want to ruin the experience of hearing these tracks for the first time, but at the same time I just had to hear them. I can now say (after listening through In rainbows once) that they really fleshed out these songs in the studio, and my first listen of the album proper wasn't tarnished at all by previewing the live versions first.

A lot of people are complaining that the pre-release (digital) version of the album was available only in 160kbps (albeit DRM-free) MP3. This doesn't bother me one bit, as this is the bitrate that I rip my music at anyway. It's also much better than the 128kbps DRM versions that you get on iTunes.

Oh, and how much did I pay? Knowing full well that I will purchase the official CD when it becomes available (tentatively scheduled for January 2008), I paid £1 for the pre-release digital version of the album. With the 45p transaction fee, this added up to $3.41 AUD. I don't feel guilty about this at all; I will purchase this album when it comes out on CD, as I always do. I am generally against paying for digital downloads; I like having the artwork and I also like having something tangible, which also works well if I decide I don't like something and want to sell it on eBay. Paying $16 (or whatever you pay on iTunes thesedays) for a digital version of an album is just ridiculous when I can usually buy the real CD, DRM-free and with artwork, for about the same price (or cheaper). And for an album that's been out for longer than 6 months, I can almost always find it on eBay for around the $10 mark.

1 comment:

  1. This new venture by Radiohead has been quite a big thing, and I congratulate them for cutting out the blood-sucking vampire-esque middle-man record company.

    My only question is - what will happen when bands that have cut out the middle man want to go on tour? Surely the record company helps set that up, right? I am sure that they will find a way to negotiate directly with tour companies, or maybe even cut them out and go direct to the that would be something!



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