With The Bends, Radiohead's
ambitions of presenting complexly arranged songs that avoided the artful
nerdiness of prog were realised; deliberatly skirting intellectualized
silliness, the band also steers clear of lowest common denominator, three
chord rawk. The result is emotionally compelling music with a brain. Copious
ink will be spilled in praise of this month's release of OK Computer -
"You don't read your press," quips guitarist Ed O'Brien, "you weigh it"
- a remarkable album that divides dramtically in half with "Fitter, Happier,"
a piece singer Thom Yorke wrote, performed by a Mac voice synthesizer.
"I think one album title and one computer voice do not a concept album,
make," says fellow guitarist Jonny Greenwood. "That's a bit of a red herring."
Tech talk is limited to the
band's mobile studio and recording space. "There's a lot of bullshit about
recording environments," offers O'Brien. "The mistake a lot of bands make
is they plow loads of money to build a recording studio that's sonically
brilliant, and it's got some hot-shit acoustic designer, and it's a waste
of maoney. You don't need to do that. We had, literally, an apple warehouse
that's been repainted and carpeted, and just a few mobile sound baffles
that you wheel into place. If you got to see Abbey Road, there's nothing
incredibly sonically special about it. It's just a big room."
Greenwood sums it up: "It's arranging and songwritting that matters. It's not the sound of the record."