NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope launched into orbit 25 Earth-years ago, and it’s been unveiling celestial wonders — nebulas (Horsehead, Carina, Cat’s Eye), pink gas clouds, lightbenders and burned-out stars — to wide, blinking human eyeballs ever since. Tonight, we raise our glasses to Hubble, and to the blind, soft edges of our atmosphere, in the lobby at Ace Hotel New York. Hubble plays a Hubble orbit’s worth of songs (97 minutes), and the cool geeks at super/collider provide the visuals.
SEA OF DIRAC // This song is about a doomed relationship, and what happens when matter and antimatter collide. The Dirac equation (i.e. the Dirac Sea) expands upon the Shrodinger equation. It also relates quite nicely to when someone who is impossible to love and someone who is impossible to hate try to make something work, and instead end up just ruining everything.
For those of you playing at home, in an alternate universe, this is a “cover” of the song made famous by a band that doesn’t exist. In reality, CWR wrote the lyrics, I wrote the music (and a couple of phrases), and we had a grand time collaborating on this.
(art is by narcomanic, and I hope it’s okay that I’m using this! I didn’t ask, but I’m too obsessed with it to let it be. SO BEAUTIFUL, RIGHT?)
Look at me, making fan art for a song from a nonfictional/fictional band from a fan fiction. And I don’t know why it appears twice. That was the only way I could get it to post. I will hopefully get better at this as time goes.
The gear setup for the current tour is slightly simplified in comparison to 2012. On that tour, the band seemed to be experimenting with new gear (such as Thom and Jonny’s DSI Tetra’s) and techniques while touring. This time, the rig is much more concise, oriented specifically towards performing new songs. As a result, old songs are being adjusted to fit the new setup. The touring rig is also simplified in comparison to what must have been used on A Moon Shaped Pool.For example, much of the Max/MSP looping and other delay effects have been eschewed. Thom and Ed have taken on many of the piano parts, adjusting them to match their setups and playing styles. The intro to Decks Dark is a particularly good example: Ed tremolo picks with delay to mimic a single piano notes being played very quickly with delay, while Thom finger plucks chords to mimic soft low piano chords panned right on the studio recording.
There are quite a few new additions to touring rig, many of which help to keep things simple. For instance, Ed has a new white Fender “Sustainer” Stratocaster, which he using for most of the new songs, as well as on older tracks for which on previous tours he used either his white 70’s Strat or his black “Sustainer” Strat. He’s also using far fewer guitars than previously. Jonny has revamped his keyboard setup to downplay his use of sampled keyboards on old songs and to emphasize ondes Martenot and strings parts. Jonny has also eschewed his Ashdown bass cabinet, which was used last tour exclusively for Supercollider. Colin has a new vintage Fender Precision Bass, which he is using for every track from the new album.
Each day for the next week, there will be a post detailing one of the new instruments being used. They will be posted under the tag #AMSP-Tour-New-Gear, and also under the more general #Radiohead-Tour-2016 tag.
HELIOLATRY // This song is about navigating the peaks and valleys of your own mental landscape, and maybe getting a bit lost in the extremes. Music by me, lyrics by cleanwhiteroom, cello and banjo by Friend King, and mastered by the master herself, elementals. Cover art by narcomanic. Available to download from cleanwhiteroom.com.
To be perfectly honest, this song was the most difficult song I’ve ever done. While a part of me wants to feel a little bit guilty for all the torment CWR, elementals and I slogged through to get this beast finished, I feel like it’s worth it. So yeah. Heliolatry: more painful than flying headfirst into the sun, but totally worth it. Nice work, team!
The last track of the last Supercos album for the last chapter of Designations. How poignant is that? This is the longest and most experimental of the Supercos tracks; think of it as a love letter to human brinksmanship.
BENZENE // This song is about coming to conclusions in dreams that you cannot while you are awake. To be more specific, it is about the discovery of the elusive chemical structure of Benzene, made by Friedrich August Kekulé while dreaming of an Ouroboros (a snake eating its own tail).
Elementals and I have been working on this track for a while now. I am a huge fan of her beautiful singing voice as well as her speaking voice, and I wanted to write a song for her to sing, so CWR and I wrote this. Elementals and I spent a lot of time going back and forth, experimenting with harmonies and synth, me trying to record a solid guitar track that didn’t have any of those sloppy metallic twangy sounds. Elementals’ insanely talented son was working on adding an additional guitar track. I was trying to tweak the bass track that I’d recorded on my guitar to get it to sound like I was actually playing a bass. We did a lot.
And then Elementals sent me this, and I threw my hands up in the air and said that this was it. This was the song. (Of course, I’m leaving out what I did first, which was clutch my chest and burst into tears over how beautiful this is.) The thing about making music is that it should be about discovering/finding the song, not forcing the song. And… this is the song. I keep needing to take a step back and pinch myself like, I wrote this song??? And this is real??? And it sounds this beautiful??!?!? Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Between Elementals and her son, the talent on this track is unreal. Absolutely unreal. I feel so grateful and lucky that they did this. I need to stop, otherwise I will just go on and on about how insanely talented this woman is, and how emotional I am getting over this song right now. I just. Can’t even deal.
last night I got a tattoo with a line from a song by a band inspired by a story in which a large amount of the internal character conflict derives from ill-considered tattoo choices.
In all seriousness, I have loved this quote since the first time I heard it, and since I’m going to spend the rest of my life repeatedly testing things, it seemed appropriate, and more eloquent than “the scientific method rocks.” My shoulderblade is a little itchy today, but it barely hurt while it was happening, and I really love the way it turned out!!