As supergroups go, Atoms for Peace is a doozy: Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker (who has worked with Beck and R.E.M.), and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco.
The story goes that they came together as a band to take Yorke’s solo album, “The Eraser,” on the road a few years ago. From freeform recording sessions in which they got wasted and listened to Fela Kuti emerged Atoms for Peace’s assured new debut record, “AMOK.”
Even with such strong players in the mix, the album feels very much like the vision of Yorke and will remind plenty of listeners of his regular band. It’s hard to discern where Yorke’s laptop experiments begin and where the band dynamic comes into play. To his credit, there’s a consistency throughout these nine songs, as if they were burnished to suit a specific late-night mood.
“AMOK” is heady dance music, in love with its jittery rhythms but never content to give over to them completely. The tension between Yorke’s cascading vocals and the stuttering, sputtering beats around him is almost hypnotic. On the opening “Before Your Very Eyes,” over an Afropop-inspired guitar line, the tempo shifts and contorts as Yorke’s voice, in its glorious high end, floats just over the din.
“Judge, Jury and Executioner” sounds most like a group effort, with its thick bass lines and an acoustic guitar underpinning the melody as a chorus of voices wails in the background. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Before Your Very Eyes”