I have such an undeniable affection for the oldies, the songs that create the platform and landscape for current listening, that it sometimes clouds my relationship with new music. It’s not any sort of revolutionary statement to declare modern music deeply in debt to the innovators of the past, but it does bear repeating. Being able to look back and see how things fit together in the vast musical landscape is important for anyone who truly cares about the art form — or any art form, for that matter.
That’s why Kid A is such an incredible record. Though it definitely brings to mind a variety of other genres and accomplishments, it’s one of the only records I’ve ever listened to that truly, completely turned all other music on its head. There’s nothing to compare it to, even if you’re able to find elements of the familiar inside its dense compositions. It’s so complex, so thick and layered, its individual parts almost float away. The beauty of these songs lies in the way every smaller element fits with the whole. The simple floating layers at the beginning of “Treefingers”, the deafening horns, seemingly completely out of context in “National Anthem”, the haunting layers of whispers in “In Limbo” … years of listening still hasn’t revealed all the moments of these songs to me. I’m always completely amazed and bewildered by how subtle and powerful this album is.
So while it seems strange to list a record that came out only ten years ago at #2, I stand by it and truly believe it will be a long while before I hear something this incredible again.
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