Supergroups can be risky business. With the exception of the Travelling Wilburys, a short-lived band that boasts a line-up of musical giants can easily produce some God-awful albums – who could forget the Highwaymen? Unfortunately, no-one.
With that in mind, when you listen to Atoms For Peace’s debut album Amok, you don’t exactly think “supergroup” – but that is exactly what the band is.
Atoms For Peace is the electronica-brainchild of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, long-time Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Beck and REM drummer Joey Waronker, David Byrne percussionist Mauro Refosco make up the rest of the whopper line-up. It doesn’t get much more super than that.
Originally the group backed Yorke when he embarked on a solo tour of the United States in 2009. But it was clear that the band would be an on-going project when it was officially given a name in 2010.
Three years on, Atoms For Peace have produced Amok – a master-class album in electronic music.
Packed tightly with clever drum loops, throbbing bass hooks and some gorgeous synthesised clinking and buzzing, the album meets its giant expectations.
There is a certain tribal quality to this record which is most evident on the percussive arrangement for ‘Dropped’ and ‘Stuck Together Pieces’. It is clear that the band members have drawn influence from their rich musical backgrounds.
But this is Thom Yorke’s baby, so his input into the group is most prevalent. Amok sounds a lot like a refined version of his debut solo album, The Eraser – but with stronger tracks.
Amok is certainly going to be a major contender for best debut of 2013 – even if it comes from a band made up of serious music veterans.