Radiohead’s The King of Limbs, which, in retrospect, plays more like a pasted-together EP of leftovers from singer Thom Yorke’s solo debut, The Eraser, than a proper studio effort, hasn’t aged well, with “Bloom” being the only track among the album’s sparse, forgettable offerings to leave a lasting impression. Which might explain why the song’s been reworked a whopping eight times on TKOL RMX 1234567, a super-collection of remixes that expands on The King of Limbs‘s natural proclivity toward forboding, glitch-obssessed dubstep. Serving as a kind of consolation prize for fans who deserpately read into a coy lyric from the song “Separator,” expecting a sequel to The King of Limbs, TKOL RMX 1234567‘s menu of remixers includes enough heavyhitters (Caribou, Four Tet) and fresh faces (SBTRKT, Jamie xx) to keep things interesting, far more successfully capturing the atmospheric dissonance Radiohead was aiming for on the original album. (Considering Yorke’s obsession with club music and his newfound alliances with electronic producers like Flying Lotus, it’s worth musing whether Radiohead produced a formless chunk of an album just so it could get reinterpreted later on.)
Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that TKOL RMX 1234567 is essentially a re-draft of an average album. Its collaborators have only so much to work with, with the daunting task of infusing dynamism into the The King of Limbs‘s lazy gloom while still keeping a semblance of its original tracks. There are some standouts: Brokenchord’s take on “Give Up the Ghost” is wonderfully chunky, blending anxious synths reminiscent of Hail to the Thief‘s “Where I End and You Begin” with a monstrous, slowed-down percussion assault straight from the Salem school of witch house, while Jamie xx brings a stuttering, bell-like ecstacy to “Bloom,” by far the best of the album’s eight versions.
But it’s Altrice’s meta remix “TKOL” that manages to deftly balance the original material with beat-centric experimentation, distilling the moody soupiness of The King of Limbs into six minutes of looping, churning beguilment. In the end, TKOL RMX 1234567 does a better job at delivering Radiohead’s snowy ennui than its forebearer, suggesting that the band should have collaborated with these electronic purveryors from the get-go and skipped The King of Limbs altogether.