100. Radiohead - ‘Kid A’ + Penicillin

100. Radiohead - ‘Kid A’ + Penicillin

Ingredients: 2 ounces blended scotch (such as Famous Grouse), 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, 3/8 ounce honey syrup (3 parts honey, 1 part water), 3/8 ounce fresh ginger juice (slightly sweetened with granulated sugar), 1/4 ounce float of Islay single malt scotch (such as Laphroaig), slice of candied ginger for garnish.

Mixing Instructions: Combine lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger juice and blended scotch in a shaker filled with ice.  Shake well and strain into an old fashioned glass half-filled with ice.  Float Islay scotch on top.  Garnish with slice of candied ginger (can use fresh ginger too).  If this cocktail seems intimidating watch this video.

Notes:  Radiohead’s fourth album was chosen as our 100th pairing because it demands the type of deep, active-listening that we champion and offers immense rewards for those willing to tune out the rest of the world for 49 minutes 57 seconds and engage it.  To some it may seem an obvious pick, but if so, it’s obvious for a reason.  Kid A is more than a great album, it’s an emotional experience that changed the way many thought about music.

Upon hearing the opening notes of “Everything in Its Right Place” one senses, somewhat uneasily, that this is not a rock album.  It is Radiohead taking everything about the genre, everything about themselves as a group, all the press, marketing, and corporate greed, dousing it with gasoline and breathlessly lighting the match.  They weren’t pushing the boundaries of their music they were completely cutting the cord.

The instrumentation is complex, inspired by everything from Aphex Twin to Charlie Mingus.  The lyrics are intentionally cryptic (for some lyrics Yorke reportedly cut up words and phrases and drew from a hat) and at times nearly inaudible. The combination, however, captures not just the mood of the current times, but of those to come.  In 'Killing Yourself to Live' author Chuck Klosterman described the album as an, “…unintentional but spooky foreshadowing of the events of 11 September 2001 attacks.”

There’s really no end to what can be drawn from an album that seems to flip Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on its head, starting with self-actualization and sweeping the rest of the more base needs into the dust bin.  The album offers nowhere to stand, nothing concrete to grasp, only fleeting thoughts and questions, but very intentionally so.  Kid A was Radiohead’s attempt to take everything they knew about music and blow it up.  We’ve spent the past 12 years frantically digging through the rubble looking for clues.     

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