Modern life and culture has expanded from the Industrial Revolution, and there is no question whatsoever to this. Though it began in Great Britain after the end of feudalism in the 17th century, it's true power was not in bloom until the late-19th century and the decades that followed. America in particular had taken a liking to the ecenomic advantages that came along. Now, a corporation did not need as many men, but only machines that a lesser of number of men would tend to and watch, and it has stayed that way for some time. Industrialism, as Karl Marx correctly thought, would lead to what we know as capitalism, which is what brings foreigners to this country even now. The promise of capitalism brought more people, which in turn made it possible for more businesses to flourish in a changing, confusing age. Industrialism even brought advantages to the warfield, as one thinks especially of the first two World Wars. Industrial plants made just about anything you can imagine when war comes to mind, and this greatly boosted the economoy later on. The need for war tools also led to advances in technology in science, especially of what we now call the computer. It's grandfather was a massive prototype, filling up large rooms, used to calculate, break codes, detect coordinates, or whatever else the military found it useful for. The commercialization of the home computer led to what we now call the Information Age, which is what we now live in.
This now brings me to Radiohead's OK Computer
. Now, I cannot blame you if all of this babbling about the Industrial Revolution seems to have no point, but let me assure you: it does. Not only did it lead up to the making to this album, but it is a cause-and-effect map that without it, this album may never have been made. OK Computer
, with its dreary, lifeless cover art, is an album that one finds to be rather ironic. On one hand, Thom Yorke sings about the dehumanization of the people of Earth, the infatuation we have with technology and how bleak our future is when all we can focus on is a microchip, along with several political underlyings here and there. Irony sets in once you start to listen. Not only is this a rock album, but it is infused with electronic
sounds and instrumentation. Then there is the spoken word poem "Fitter Happier," one that depicts the monotony of modern life or perphaps much it could possibly become, forces a biting realism in the middle of an album so wonderfully escapist in feel.
Gloom undercurrents run through every song here in some wonderful way, and it's problematic to try to describe how bleak this album can get. One way I can manage to is to say that if you read George Orwell's 1984
, you will have absolutely no problem grasping the feel and concept of this album. Even in the liner notes, it is apparent that the similarities between the two are disturbing, with a photograph of Jesus Christ hanging over people, and even just the overall drudge of the art contained within, with blurry shadows holding hands and sillhouetes of airplanes. The lyrics, which in the booklet are typed in the vein of e.e. cummings, are equally as disturbing as anything else on the album, including the music. Thom Yorke sings lines like "This is what you get, when you mess with us", and "When I am the King you will be the first against the wall" with a chilling, spine-tingling falsetto. He does not sound like a women, but more like an omnipotent figure that lives in your own mind and tortures you every moment that you live. You would find Thom Yorke lying under the floorboards, his heart beating, and beating, and beating, and beating. Driving one to the break of insanity, grasping your head, and with your eyes dilate, you jump out a window and into the traffic that blankets the pavement. When seen live, he dances maniacally as if he is possessed, only taking the microphone to pull out a voice of such angelic retribution that it's almost divine
Musical accompaniment here is in no way sparse, acting as a chaotic blend of noises and tones that combine to together to form a wall of sound. Backwards tape effects, cascading, dramatic strings, keyboards, and guitar playing that would make Thurston Moore blush are all crammed into one space. The sounds made feel as if they are completely inhuman and impure to your ears, and when coupled with the voice of Thom, it becomes pure euphoria. Songs like the everchanging, lush "Paranoid Android" shift so much that it is possible to become lost in Radiohead's electronic sea. Eventually, some of the songs come together to form one unified piece of music, one massive piece of undeniable genius that twists your brian into a knot and smakes you in the face. Radiohead are their own Gods; they bear down on the music with such frightful power and emotion, creating one of the greatest pieces of music to ever be released, and one day we will all look back on this as we rot in our holes, and we will think of only one thing: