If the progressive momentum between the release of Radiohead's riff ridden album debut 'Pablo Honey' (1993) and it's visionary successor 'The Bends' (1995) were calculated, it was without question with the unveiling of the bands next album that all comparative expectation would be flattened with its first steps.
'OK Computer' was released to immediate acclaim in June 1997, its applause was heard through the derailing exodus of the Britpop mainstream (Oasis, Pulp, Blur...) and its suggestive replacement in a dance market (Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Roni Size...) that was driving Blair's pop Britannia. Bathing in the praise of both 'The Bends' and their crowning swansong single 'Creep', Radiohead were still fighting uphill to create a more challenging and studious attack in imagery and personal context. Already towing a loyal British fan base, the bands sales and live impact were reflecting well overseas securing major support tours and a commercial US splash in the aftermath of Nirvana.
Produced and assembled (with producer Nigel Godrich) in Bath, the album hears the band uncover political warning with immense creativity. With its sullen bleached sleeve and tortured typeset it displays the band as misread with leader Thom Yorke voicing the progressive Hip Hop leanings of DJ Shadows' Endtroducing and fusion of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew as modest influences in the make up of the record. And it's apparent, from the displaced and menacing attack of opener 'Airbag' that the bands sonic goalposts had widened.
The use of sampled break beats and synthetic cut and paste harmonics flood the record and each track carries a story that borders the album on 'concept'. 'Paranoid Android' spells a modern day 'Bohemian Rhapsody'; with twisting odd times and anarchic direction it preceded the albums release as lead single. 'Subterranean Homesick Alien' is showered with overdriven bass and hypnotic beauty that reclines into 'Exit Music' which is chilling and almost claustrophobic in its intimacy (a prime focus for much of this record). 'Karma Police' plods aimless with sweeping soundscape before dying before us to intermit the album with the phonetic 'Fitter Happier', 'No Surprises' is a belated nod to 'Creep', complete with cut out chorus and glimmering sing along. The album ends with the tidal 'TheTourist', which bows out to its final chime.
'OK Computer' is monumental in its delivery and pace, and lends something new with every listen. It stands as one of the most creative desk jobs in modern production and seeking hard for filler tracks, its life span will be timeless