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Radiohead’s Kid A inspires original new music

Monday, 07 May 2018

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When it was released in October 2000, Kid A by English alternative rock band Radiohead divided critics with its use of electronica, free jazz and avant garde music techniques. Regardless, the album debuted at the top of the UK and US charts, went on to win a Grammy Award and gained critical acclaim as “the most groundbreaking rock album of the ‘00s”.

Kid A, along with its twin album Amnesiac, has now taken on the status of a cultural cornerstone, defining a key moment when alternative musical exploration was mainstreamed.

“Those two Radiohead albums had a big impact – I think listening to them is still one of the common paths leading to an interest in composition and sound for a lot of young people,” says Dr Lindsay Vickery, WAAPA’s Coordinator of Composition and Music Technology program. “It’s nearly 20 years since they were released but they definitely seem to remain a touchstone for a lot of students.”

On Thursday 10 May, WAAPA’s Composition and Music Technology students present Kid A, a free concert of original works created in response to this defining album.

“For the Kid A concert, students respond to the 10 songs and one hidden track on Radiohead’s album,” says Dr Vickery.”We’ll be performing them in the same order as the original – but we hope to have a few surprises along the way!”

The concert is bookended by four free evenings of original music at ECU’s Spectrum Project Space on 7, 8, 9 and 11 May. Sound Spectrum 2018.1 features an exciting line-up of experimental acoustic and electronic music performances, audio visual works, DJ artists and world premieres from WAAPA’s new music ensembles including Aletheia, Certifiable, Ecuatorial and Shock of the New.

Dr Vickery says his students continue to amaze him with the quality and inventiveness of their compositions.

“Last year we had one student making music powered by an EEG measuring electrical activity in her brain and another leading an ensemble of 1980s keyboards,” says Dr Vickery. “Other works included a system that projected video from vibrations in water, a music procession and a suite of pieces for saxophone accompanied by speeches by Donald Trump – so their work can be pretty surprising!”

Sound Spectrum 2018.1 showcases the incredible variety of work being produced by our students. There’s a laptop orchestra, an electric guitar orchestra, a composers’ orchestra, works for surround sound and this year a new group, the Listener Ensemble.”

Dr Vickery describes the Listener Ensemble as being a collaboration between performers who each contribute small sounds to an overall texture. “It’s more about listening, communicating and the community of sound making, rather than a traditional concert-hall style performance.”

For cutting-edge music that is exciting, inventive and startlingly original, head to WAAPA from May 7-11 for Kid A and Sound Spectrum 2018.1.

For all venue and performance details, please visit the Kid A and Sound Spectrum 2018.1 performance web pages.

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