The 2 CD compilation of Radiohead’s ambitious The King of Limbs remixes is finally here. If you’ve been following the slow release of the these remixes over the the summer you should already be aware of what’s in store. For those of you out of the loop, Radiohead issued a remix series featuring reworkings of their King of Limbs songs from artists such as Caribou, Mark Pritchard, Four Tet, SBTRKT, and many others.
This varied collection of remixes can be quite overwhelming at first glance. There are 19 tracks total and an ass load of them are “Bloom” remixes. This, however, is not necessarily a problem. These remixes are sometimes so far removed from their original renditions that it can hard at times to even pinpoint which song you are listening to. Many of the songs are far more experimental in nature than The King of Limbs which is bad news to the many Radiohead fans pining for a return to their rock roots. For me, this is the collection’s greatest strength. Rather than slapping a dancier beat on the songs, the various remixers take the original songs and make what sounds essentially like an entirely new song that samples the original. They are wholly unique takes on Radiohead’s tunes. Some are more straightforward than others, take, for example, Pearson Sound’s remix of “Morning Mr. Magpie.” It can barely be described as an actual song whereas Caribou’s “Little By Little” remix is very structured. There are so many different kinds of songs on here that if you are a fan of either Radiohead or the remixer you mostly likely find something to enjoy on this record.
One of my personal highlights of the album is the Caribou remix of “Little By Little”. Its a great and simple remix that uses harp and pockets of silence to reinvent the song. Its some very danceable stuff. On the other side of the spectrum the “Bloom” remixes by Mark Pritchard, under both his real name and his moniker Harmonic 313, are great for their aural depth and other-worldliness. Another one of my favorites is the “Magpie” remix by Nathan Fake which features a shifty beat and ambient sounds reminiscent of the music in Deku Tree sequence from Ocarina of Time (I hope that gets you as excited as it does me). The Thriller Houseghost remix of the ballad “Give Up The Ghost” is hazy and entrancing. Altrice produces an all new track entitled “TKOL” that utilizes samples from every song on the album. Its a worthy addition to the world of The King of Limbs and makes for a really cool song. Modeselektor’s remix of “Magpie” is club ready and does not disappoint.
This album is not perfect however. It is at heart a collection of songs that do not add up to a cohesive album. Therefore, it is better to listen to the songs individually rather than listening to the collection in full. In addition, there as some disappointments. Jamie XX’s remix of “Bloom” is great but could go on for longer. Another “Bloom” remix by Blawan is loud and thunderous but somewhat empty.
Bottom Line: Though not without its flaws this album is worth your time. Like most of Radiohead’s material, it gets better with repeat listens. There is a lot here to absorb so patience is key. Many of the songs can become quite addictive, much like their source material. Overall, this collection effectively expands on The King of Limbs while remaining original enough to warrant repeat listens.
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It comes out on Oct. 11th on CD.