Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Radiohead continues to push boundaries

With In Rainbows Radiohead is back to making music you actually want to listen to (which is nice). They are still pushing the medium but now they aren't relying on blips and blurts and little adverts to show how edgy they are, but are instead playing with different aspects of the music industry engine. This is good because, really, how much further could they go with their sound? Declaring yourself bored with the electric guitar always seemed self-indulgent and self-defeating.

So, first they offer their latest album as a pay-what-you-want download from their website [note: they don't have a record contract at the moment so it affords them a certain amount of freedom that other bands don't have; to be fair, those with record contracts derive a certain amount of comfort from getting paid by the record company]. This gathered HUGE amounts of media coverage and was, in their words, a great "social experiment". When the album was released on iTunes and in CD and other formats, they still sold a lot of records. Whatever sales they lost were probably more than made up for by a return to relevance.

And now they are playing with the music video format with their new video for 'House of Cards'. This video was shot using lasers instead of cameras. Radiohead used Geometric Informatics and Velodyne Lidar technology which is basically 3D scanning or motion capture. The system involves the use of 64 rotating lasers. It is pretty freaky to watch, if not particularly interesting.

There is also a "Behind the Scenes" video on their YouTube site that talks about how the video was made, how the idea for it came about, etc.

Unquestionably this video is groundbreaking in its use of technology and Radiohead is now not limiting themselves to just their actual music in their innovation. The bigger issue for me is, while boundaries are definitely being pushed, is the resulting art any good?

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