Split Sides Review

by Jonathan on October 11, 2004

This is an article by pop critic David Sinclair in the London Times T2 pull-out section on Thursday 7th October about Radiohead’s soundtrack for Merce Cunningham’s “Split Sides”:

Although it has not been deemed worthy of a commercial release, the recorded soundtrack which Radiohead provided for Merce Cunningham’s Split Sides has done nothing to harm their status as godheads of rock’s avante-garde. A free-form extension of the ideas they explored on numbers such as The Gloaming on their Hail to the Thief album from last year, this was ambient music at its most abstract and atonal.
Agitated percussion loops were dispersed among bleak washes of white noise to create a tense, unsettling atmosphere. At one point it sounded as if a needle had been left scratching against the playout groove of a vinyl record, while vague electronic ululations and a babel of voices hovered on the periphery uneven, it rubbed against the grain of the dancers movements like sandpaper.
While not as celebrated as Radiohead, the Icelandic group Sigur Ro’s have actually been making music of a similarly atmospheric nature for much longer. and it sounded like it. their recorded contribution to Split Sides, which was widely acclaimed on its release earlier this year as an EP entitled Baba Tiki Dido, shimmered and twinkled like jewellery in the sun.
Although more evolved than Radiohead’s stark electronic doodling, Sigur Ros’s music evoked a mood of more innocent playfulness.Performed on various instruments invented specifically for this project by the group. including a percussion rack made out of ballet shoes called a “bomsett”, it moved in crystalline patterns that echoed the cyclical melodies of a child’s musical box – a comparatively benign and rather more alert Dr Jekyll to radiohead’s neurotic and sometimes rambling Mr Hyde.

(thanks to Abe)



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