We first reported on Thom Yorke’s supergroup, Atoms For Peace nearly two years ago – a live band of ragtag superstars the Radiohead frontman pulled together to help tour his 2006 solo album The Eraser for a headline slot at Coachella 2010 and a number of exclusive American clubs.
With a lineup featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, former REM touring drummer Joey Waronker, percussionist Mauro Refosco from Forro in the Dark and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich – the group was initially designed as a temporary unit, that was until whispers began that Flea and Yorke were working on a full-length album.
Nearly three years later, and barring an obscure vinyl release featuring a remix (more on that later), we have the first taste of the Atoms For Peace album in the unveiling of lead single, ‘Default’.
In a statement released on his other band’s website, Yorke wrote: “You may have heard that I have a new project called Atoms for Peace. The name comes from some shows of The Eraser that happened a couple of years ago with Mauro, Joey, Nigel and Flea.”
“We got a big buzz from them and discovered loads of energy from transforming the music from electronic to live,” Yorke writes, “and so afterwards, we carried on for a few days in the studio and decided to make it a loose, on-going thing. Immersed in the area between the two… electronic and live.”
Though the as-yet-untitled debut album is pitched for release in 2013 sometime (via XL Recordings who handled Thom Yorke’s The Eraser), ‘Default’ (not a Django Django cover) is the first sounds from the studio (which you can hear up top).
Sounding like the natural evolution of Yorke’s electronic preoccupations, it’s very much the sonic sequel to 2006’s The Eraser. Even the artwork attached to the single follows the stencilled flood cover of Yorke’s first solo release.
‘Default’ does have the air of his collaborators though, managing to float in a strange sub-space between electronic programming, and the warped, flexible rhythms of a live performance – even if it is a million miles away from Flea’s bass-strutting in the Chilis or Joey Waronker’s indie rock patterns.
It’s technically not the first taste the public has had of Yorke’s new musical project. Last July, the first taste of Atoms For Peace came in a 12” single released through (previous Yorke collaborators) Modeselektor’s 50 Weapons record label imprint.
The double A-side vinyl featured a ‘Stuck Together’ remix of Atoms For Peace’s (unreleased) tune, ‘Other Side’ (and no, it’s not a cover of Flea’s band’s hit). While the flip side contained Atoms For Peace remixing ‘Tamer Animals”, a track by Other Lives – a five-piece act from Stillwater, Oklahoma that have toured with Bon Iver.
Confused? Well if you’ve been keeping track of Yorke’s electronic music dabbling and listening habits, it might not come as such a surprise, but still it’s a pretty obscure move, even for the most recognisable member of Radiohead.