Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 359
Thurs, Jan 09, 2013

“Judge Jury and Executioner”
Atoms for Peace


“♫ Don’t
worry, baby/
it goes right
through me/
I’m like the
wind and my
anger will

Thom Yorke once said, “The hardest part about being in Radiohead is listening to my own music.” You could feel it after Hail to the Thief, [Editors Note: Subsequently Atoms for Peace new single “Judge Jury and Executioner,” shares the alternate title with “Mycomatosis” from Hail to the Thief – coincidence? ] Thom was itching for a new outlet for his voice and songs. He discovered the fruits of his creations when Yorke released his first solo album The Eraser in 2006. You can actually feel the difference in Yorke’s vocals before and after releasing The Eraser. Yorke’s once trademark mysterious vocal tones became more confident and soulfully livelier on songs like “All I Need” and “House of Cards” In Rainbows.

I believe making music away from his band gave him enough creative distance that Yorke appreciated the internal dynamics of Radiohead. Now that Yorke had a personal outlet for his own songs, because of all the support his band mates gave Thom for his solo endeavor, Yorke, in turn, brought back a renewed enthusiasm to future Radiohead recording sessions. Besides, the more side projects Greenwood[s], O’Brien, Selway, Yorke release, the more, we, Radiohead fans win, because we get to hear even more new music from our favorite lads from Oxford.

Speaking of side projects, inspired by such positive responses Yorke had from The Eraser that Thom decided to put together a band and tour. And thus Atoms for Peace was born. Yorke recruited Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Beck/R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker, percussionist/multi-instrumentalist Mauro Refosco, and Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea. The result was the electronically eclectic sound of Atoms for Peace.

Flea talked to Rolling Stone magazine about working with Thom York on the Atoms for Peace sessions when he said, “People always think about him and talk about as this really cerebral artist,” he says. “Especially when we were playing together. People would go, ‘Thom is so cerebral and Flea is just an animal.’ But Thom is the type of musician who doesn’t think at all. He goes totally on feeling and intuition. Whereas I’m like, ‘You can try a G7 chord with a diminished fifth, that might be proper.’ My point is that he’s such a beautiful, natural and exciting musician. Also, his relationship with Nigel is so cool, Nigel being this organizational, producery-type guy. They’re going to have something incredible. I have complete faith in them.”

Atoms for Peace is an amalgam of Beck, Radiohead, R.E.M. Red Hot Chili Peppers with dashes of jazz, funk and electronic influences blended together to create the sound of this unique rock band of the future. With their newly released single “Judge Jury and Executioner,” Atoms for Peace are introducing another dynamic cut from their soon to be released debut album AMOK. Thom described the new Atoms for Peace single to Rolling Stone as, ““Judge, Jury and Executioner” was a funny one, because the rhythm is so odd on it. The phrase just spewed out when I was playing the song on guitar. It was like a key, opening a door into all this other stuff that was going on, that I was desperate to get out. “Judge, Jury and Executioner” – that’s pretty angry.”

More than just an outlet for the bands electronic fury, Producer Nigel Godrich described the philosophy of Atoms for Peace as, “It’s supposed to blur the line between what’s generated electronically and what’s generated by a human being, no matter if it sounds organic or electronic or whatever. In an ideal world, I think it’s true to say there are things on the record that sound like machines that are actually people and there are things that sound like real sounds that are actually machines. But the real thing is just to get the combination that works. It’s not a lot of effort – we’re not trying to confuse anyone. You just end up with a lot of stuff, and you choose the things that go together.” Godrich described why the grayer I become, the less I am drawn towards electronic music. But there’s something about Atoms for Peace that blends the best of both emotional and electronic worlds together in harmony.

Thom talked about trying to find the balance for Atoms for Peace sound between human and machine when he said, “It’s fucked up! I’m going, all the time, “Hmm, this is too human. Can we make this a little more mechanistic?” But as much as I try to resist the temptation, I really want to say, “This is the beginning of something.”” The band was crafting songs and not just rampant rhythmic ambient electro patterns, Thom’s Radiohead mindset didn’t abandon Thom when he was making Atoms for Peace, Yorke insisted, “But the best tunes I dance to always have at least one good vocal idea.” Yorke insists. “There’s no such thing, to me, as a good tune with no vocals.”

It’s now for us to decide if “Judge Jury and Executioner” is any indication; AfP will have an elongated lifespan because they sound more than just another techno-rock outfit. By infusing cerebral riffs with electronic melodies that transcend classifications, Yorke, Godrich, Waronker, Refosco and Flea collectively, creating a new identity beyond rhythms and sound—within the lyrical heart and synth layered soul that is Atoms for Peace.