Photo By: Noah Nickel via Apple Music
Radiohead has announced the release of new material from their experimental era that will have an accompanying virtual reality experience.
The massively popular alternative rock band has been fairly quiet since the release of their last full-length studio album in 2016, A Moon Shaped Pool. That’s no longer the case, as the English band are reissuing their classic albums Kid A and Amnesiac, along with a third disc featuring scrapped material from the years 1999-2000. The “new” quasi-triple album is titled Kid A Mnesia; a clever play on the names of the two records and the studio session during which these never released before tracks were recorded.
A teaser track from the third disc titled “If You Say the Word” hit streaming platforms when the announcement was made that this project was on its way. Another song, “Follow Me Around,” which has circulated since its use in the 1998 documentary Meeting People is Easy, has made the cut too. The album(s) will be released on Nov. 5, 2021 through XL Recordings.
The collection includes artwork from Stanley Donwood, who did the original artwork for both Kid A and Amnesiac. The art features more of the dreary landscapes, uncanny characters and icy textures that have become intimately tied to Radiohead’s early 2000’s output.
What has been maybe the most surprising aspect of this announced collection is a collaboration with Epic Games in what’s been called, “an upside-down digital/analogue universe created from original artwork and recordings to commemorate 21 years of Radiohead’s Kid A and Amnesiac.” There is a teaser trailer from PlayStation, although this isn’t a Sony exclusive release. The interactive event will be available for PlayStation 5, Windows and MacOS, and is being released in November. The exact date has not been formally announced yet, however.
Kid A has been lauded by music lovers for two decades now. It’s undeniably one of the greatest rock achievements of the 21st century, with many seeing its digital dystopian atmosphere as prophetic to the era that was fast approaching. Ironically, it represented the band’s controversial departure from the guitar that dominated their angsty 90s material. Keep in mind, when the record was released, mobile computers did not have the same ubiquity as they do now — Windows 95 had only come out five years prior. Hearing the record now, it’s not hard to see why an idea like this re-release might actually be appropriate, especially after a pandemic fastened us all even tighter to our screens as the world seemingly started to crumble from outside our homes, much like the imagery that defined these records’ aesthetics.
Following the same sessions in which Kid A came from was 2001’s Amnesiac.
An album that shared a similar headspace of ‘what happens when electronica clashes with art rock,’ but was less grand in scope. Instead it features more intimate and minimal songwriting. While never reaching the status of its predecessor, it still holds a special place in many Radiohead fans’ hearts. I mean who doesn’t love “Pyramid Song”?
Will the B-sides that make up the third disc of Kid A Mnesia hold a candle to the legacies mentioned above? Probably not. However, that doesn’t mean this collection and interactive event won’t be a worthwhile revisit to some of the most globally beloved music ever released.