Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 119
Tues. May 29, 2013
“Climbing Up The Walls”
Expertly placed in between a song inspired by the tax riots Electioneering and the Pet Sounds inspired No Surprises, is one of the most claustrophobic cuts in Radiohead’s illustrious song canon. OK Computer’s “Climbing Up The Walls” is simply the soundtrack to the haunted whispers lurking inside your paranoid head. Ever wondered what track number nine from OK Computer was about? Thom Yorke explained when he said, “You don’t need drugs to make extreme music. Just reading the papers makes you feel extreme. ‘Climbing Up The Walls’, for instance. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time the Government was getting passionate about Care in the Community, and everyone just knew what was going to happen. It was one of the scariest things that ever happened in this country, because a lot of them weren’t harmless. It’s like those huge 18th-century paintings, if you get really close to them, you can see these little figures in the corners, these amorphous little monsters. And that’s what some big towns are like now: the shadows contain amorphous little monsters.”
Sharing some secrets on how some of OK Computer’s song came to life Colin Greenwood told NME, “Well, we stole a lot of Polish composer Penderecki’s string ideas. Rock arrangements haven’t changed much since the days of The Beatles and ‘Eleanor Rigby’. And if bands do want to get weird things with strings, they just put them through effects. “We’ve found all these composers that are still getting new sounds out of violins. On the last chord of our song, ‘Climbing Up The Walls’, there’s this block of white noise you can make when 16 violins are playing quarter tones apart from each other. It’s the most frightening sound – like insects or something. But it’s beautiful.”
After much contemplation and a couple of terrifying spins of “Climbing,” bassist Colin eventually described the end cacophony freak out of strings sounds at the climax of “Walls” as “quite horrible;” Radiohead guitarist Ed O Brien didn’t want to claim the recording of “Climbing” was haunted but he did tell Melody Maker this in 1997, “We recorded in in the ballroom of this old stately home. Dare we say there was something Gothic about the environment? It was certainly very New Grave of New Grave.” Not the most uplifting of songs and I’m surprised it hasn’t been included in more psychological horror movies because in 1997 Radiohead composed one of the creepiest paranoia anthems never to appear on film.
You won’t find many fans who would name “Climbing Up The Walls” as their favorite Radiohead song. One of the most chilling Radiohead songs on O.K. Computer so chilling it makes “Exit Music (For Film)” and “No Surprises” seem like a lovesick lullabies. The next time spin track number nine on OK Computer let those rushes of paranoia wash through your deepest fears. Not yet convinced? Well, you know what they say… just because your not “Climbing Up The Walls,” doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
Also check out one of my favorite Radiohead remixes ever, Fila Brazillia smoked out remix of “Climbing Up The Walls:”