A synesthete’s review of KID A

According to many music magazines, Radiohead’s “KID A” is the best album of the last decade. There are countless reviews and articles about it, but I don’t think there’s one from a synesthete‘s point of view. So I decided to write one myself, to describe how KID A looks and feels to me. KID-A is a very visual album, possibly one of the most visual albums ever. In fact, I consider “bad music” anything that doesn’t make me see colors, images, stories, or draw forgotten memories.

Of course, each synesthete is experiencing the same pieces of art differently, but if you’d like to experience the same feelings and visuals as I do in my (drug-free) soft-trip, first read the paragraph for a track below, and then listen to that track on good headphones, without any other distraction. Close your eyes, and let the music tell the story. Do not pay attention to the lyrics either.

1. Everything in its right place

I’m on a natural, dark tunnel, and I’m floating. I’m trying to move, but it’s not easy, it’s as difficult as when trying to swim, requires effort. There is a bit of light at the end, and I’m trying to reach it. The closer I get, and the more effort I put, the more the tunnel is flexing in and out, like it’s breathing. I never reach the light.

2. Kid A

I’m in a forest, and it’s raining. Drops for now, rain later. Everything is so big: the leaves, the flowers are all huge… I’m a beetle. In the middle of the small meadow there’s an anomaly. Looks like a time/space continuum disruption. It’s like a portal of a sort, and it’s vibrating. It draws me nearer, flying from leaf to leaf. I notice that ants, and ladybugs around me are equally attracted to it. A baby deer draws close too. A bit too close. Suddenly the disturbance is pulling the deer into it, but in a weird fashion: it’s like it’s pulling its flesh, with the bones stay in place. Eventually, the deer is gone. I’m now too close to it too. I have to go in, can’t resist. I’m in. It’s a white space with floating red marbles, moving around… I think it’s weird, but it’s fun. Is there more to this amazing place? Suddenly I’m pulled down, and it’s quickly getting darker and uglier. I’m in a stomach.

3. The National Anthem

I’m in a club, and it’s filled with both people and weird creatures. We are all dancing in slow motion. The band is made of alien-like creatures, but the singer is human. From the singer’s mouth and movements, some rainbow-like streaks are unleashed and everyone on the dance-floor is trying to catch them. During the last part of the song with the trumpet solos, everyone gets into frenzied trance.

4. How to Disappear Completely

I’m in a white spaceship, and I’m all alone. I move through the white corridors, and empty white rooms with a view, but there’s nothing for me there, inside or out of it. There’s emptiness both inside the spaceship and outside of it. It feels like I’m alone in the whole universe. I try to flex, and the spaceship flexes back. It’s my prison, and my life line. I travel from nebulae, to planets, to dark void, but nothing moves me. I’m sad and lonely. It’s time. I drive the spaceship into a sun, and I welcome it with open arms.

5. Treefingers

It’s a starry night, and I’m in a place surrounded by trees. There is no opening to escape. My only light is some golden dust moving around and playing with me. My only way out of it is to look up, at the stars. I decide to give up, and take a rest, by lying on the grass. Suddenly the grass moves, and moves my body forward. It releases my body to some flowers that continue to move me around, then the trees themselves use their branches and move me from tree to tree. Eventually I’m high enough. I still can’t break free from the tree prison, but I’m closer to the stars.

6. Optimistic

I’m in a huge gray factory, with a stale atmosphere and smoke that’s hard to breath. I’m floating towards gray machinery, all sorts of machinery that move with the beat. Sometimes the machinery re-shapes itself and changes to look like a singing mouth. As I further float to more machinery, there’s a place made with fire that it creates even more machinery. The machinery is endless, like the world is made of it. I go back out, and get a larger view of the factory, but there’s no ending in sight. Zooming in and out of the machines only reveals smaller or bigger machines, made from other machines.

7. In Limbo

It’s a beautiful sunny day, near the beach. I’m a turtle, currently hiding behind some vegetation. I need to move, reach the sea, that’s my goal. But I seem to have to go through sunbathers. I start my voyage, and I go pass a beautiful woman who keeps adding sun protection. By the time I get passed her, in my turtle speed, she already bathed herself 3 times in that oil. An old man is enjoying the sun by sleeping, while his old wife next to him is looking and criticizing the rest of the people on the beach. A bit further a fat woman is eating a peach. I’m closer to the sea, but there’s trouble ahead. Two kids approach me and turn me upside down with a stick. I panic and hide myself in my shell. When I decide to stick my head out again, they’ve already gone. I’m closer to the sea now. Before I enter the water I stop to admire windsurfing, but the image is soon polluted by people spitting out sea water while swimming. There’s no time to waste, I get into the water. Oh, look, so many legs!

8. Idioteque

I fly over a city of the future. It’s night, but there are so many lights, so colorful. But upon zooming down to the streets there seems to be a constant parade of soldiers. The soldiers are endless. When watching the city from above it feels like an ordinary city, with normal traffic. But when you go closer to it, it’s filled with soldiers parading, there are no people on the sidewalks, or cars. There is only one spectator: a little girl, no more than 5 or 6 years old. She has a dirty face, her clothes are dirty and full of holes. She’s sitting by the sidewalk, hugging her knees, watching the parade. Her eyes show nothing but fear. Every time she tries to look away, a soldier closer to her immediately turns his head and gives her a wild stare. She can’t escape. She’s forever bound.

9. Morning Bell

I’m in a white-gray place, that’s full of nothingness. It’s just white-gray. I’m floating horizontally, and I’m looking up, the endless white. But there’s a portal-like opening above me now, with a dream-like view of what seems to be the real world. I try to get to it, but my movement is very slow, like the gravity on this place is optimized for stillness. As I get closer to the portal though, two more appear on my left and right, and all three are now pulling me slowly, in different directions. It starts to become painful. But then, the three depictions of the real world change to dark, scary views. They’re still pulling me in.

10. Motion Picture Soundtrack

In a 1940s-like room. Everything is in black and white. A beautiful woman, wearing clothes and hair of the era, lies in bed, dead. She committed suicide. I look around in the room, I touch her things, but eventually I go back to her, and I touch her hair. I loved this woman. Suddenly, golden light surrounds her body, the only colorful element in the scene, and soon enough it flies out of the window, and up to the sky. Something does stay behind though, and that’s a dark shadow. It soon comes towards me. I can’t run away from it, it devours me. Before I fall down I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I am that woman.

11. Untitled

I’m the golden light: I leave the Earth, the solar system, the galaxy, the known universe. I fade away. Into a dark tunnel.


Omniscient Eyes wrote on July 6th, 2011 at 9:49 AM PST:

I wiiiiish I had that kind of imagination! So I have never really listened to Radiohead and after listening to a few of the songs you listed, as creative as they are, I just cannot get into it. Maybe it’s because I’m @ work, maybe because its a little slow for my taste, maybe it would sound better after a little greenery sesh… who knows. I would like to add that I happen to LOVE all diff types of electronic music… i.e. Blaqk Audio, Yeasayer, Empire of the Sun… etc etc. I will listen to more later and hopefully get a chance to ride on a spaceship as well.

кран балка wrote on July 12th, 2011 at 3:06 PM PST:

Думается, если долго стараться, даже самую сложную мысль можно так подробно раскрыть

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