Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In Rainbows

The methods by which we obtain music are…and have for a long time been…changing (something the major labels and the large record store chains have been loathe to acknowledge or quick to adjust to.) As CD sales continue to plummet and record stores (one of the great joys of my younger days) continue to disappear…as sites for legally downloading music multiply (iTunes is the undisputed leader, of course, but Amazon. com recently joined in the fray, and there are many other outlets…my personal favorite is eMusic, a site that specializes in “indie” labels) music fans have a multitude of ways to get their musical fixes.

Artists too are redefining the ways they get their music out to the public. Prince caused a stir earlier this year by giving away copies of Planet Earth with a British newspaper and Madonna recently jumped ship from a major label for a multi-tiered, multi-million dollar deal with a concert promoter.

Radiohead, the amazing, creatively restless and adventurous British band, has upped the ante by offering their new record, the gorgeous and beguiling In Rainbows, as a download on their website where the listener can choose how much (if anything) they want to pay for it. Fans can decide to pay nothing (according to one report more than half of them are opting to do just that) for the record and they can still download the ten tracks that make up In Rainbows (a standard CD will be issued next year and there is also a pricey box set consisting of the CD, two vinyl LPs, a 2nd CD with bonus tracks and digital photos, lyric booklets and other artwork that will begin shipping in December.)

The audacious marketing experiment aside, In Rainbows is a remarkable rock and roll record (and for the record, I paid $10 for it…$1 a track…and it was money well spent.) From the funky “15 Step” to the all-out rocker “Bodysnatchers”…from the lush, shimmering “Nude” to the soaring, electronic washes of “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”…to the love songs, grandly ruminative (“All I Need”) and gently flowing (“Faust Arp”)…from the pulsating, rock solid “Reckoner” (hear below) to soothing, mid-tempo groove (accented by haunting electronic accents) of “House of Cards”…from the throbbing rock and roll of “Jigsaw Falling into Place” to somber and almost ethereal (save for the commanding drumbeat) closer “Videotape”…the tracks are uniformly intriguing, involving, and compelling. It is, quite simply, a wonderful album.

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