Just in time for the sun to set a little sooner, Radiohead’s Kid A Mnesia marks a fitting entrance into this year’s gloomy, gift-giving season. Released Nov. 5, combined reissue Kid A Mnesia celebrates the 20th anniversary of the orchestral and electronic inspired experimental-alternative rock band’s sister albums Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001). This special release also includes a third disc titled Kid Amnesiae, which comprises previously unreleased recording sessions and B-sides.
But that’s not all — this English band embraces an all-American materialistic Christmas spirit as the triple-album is accompanied by several unique pieces of merchandise: cassette tapes, a book of visual art by frontman Thom Yorke and album cover artist Stanley Donwood, a collection of writings by the same two lads, T-shirts and more. And if you thought we were finished, think again: Kid A Mnesia even celebrates the release of an audiovisual interactive digital Radiohead experience.
Although the music of Kid Amnesiae itself may be unsurprising for the most devoted Radiohead fans, the disc features alternate versions of familiar songs that give audiences a closer, behind-the-scenes listen into the band’s creative process and lesser-known samples. “Fog” — a hidden B-side off of Amnesiac and later released with the single “Knives Out” in 2001 — is an almost climactic yet somber ballad that describes a lone child surrounded by dark, misty imagery. Kid Amnesiae’s “Again Again” version of the song removes Colin Greenwood’s crescendo-esque tambourine from the original, allowing its soft synth to take center stage. With its simpler, youthful sonics and shakier vocals, the song almost resembles a video game soundtrack. Though “Fog” is melodically beautiful, it’s no surprise (pun intended) that neither of its versions became Radiohead staples. Both editions sound a bit unfinished in comparison to the other more balanced orchestral-electronic rock ballads that define the band’s near-signature style.
Ironically, as Radiohead’s musical career spanned across the years, straying from the “signature” came to be the band’s notorious desire, as evidenced by several of the electronic songs on Kid Amnesiae. The disc’s experimental “Untitled” tracks (labeled with versions 1, 2 and 3) exemplify Radiohead’s refusal to adhere to the traditional elements of the “rock” genre, and make obvious the band’s obsession with creating new sounds to supplement the musical archive. The untitleds are unstructured electro-synth galore and resemble the stylings of artists such as Aphex Twin, who paved the way for the popular and emblematic electronic sounds of the 21st century.
Elsewhere on the album, “Pull/ Pulk – True Love Waits Version” is the combination of iconic Radiohead jams you didn’t know you needed. The song combines the blurry, static-resembling instrumental of “Pull/Pulk – Revolving Doors” from Amnesiac with the infamous melodic vocals of “True Love Waits,” which was written decades ago but remained unfinished and unreleased until 2016. Kid A Mnesia also includes the catchy “If You Say The Word,” which was initially dropped as a single in September. This single stands out among the rest of Kid Amnesiae in terms of production completeness — unlike the other session samples, “If You Say The Word” sounds like a finished product. Another finished product off of Kid Amnesiae is the fan-favorite acoustic track “Follow Me Around,” which is most known for its appearance in Grant Gee’s 1998 documentary following the band titled “Meeting People Is Easy.”
“Follow Me Around” isn’t Kid A Mnesia’s only surprise for string-lovers: This reissue also includes two songs that feature the isolated strings of the classic “Pyramid Song” and “How to Disappear Completely.” The latter “How to Disappear into Strings” is an especially cinematic track that culminates the epic three-part specialty with a spirit of climactic gusto, only made possible by a guitarist with as much film-scoring oeuvre as his truly, Jonny Greenwood.
Searching for ways to let your favorite creep or weirdo know that they are, in fact, “so f—ing special” this holiday season? Look no further than kida-mnesia.com, and listen no further than Kid A Mnesia: 2021’s most gloomy, symphonic and celebratory triple-album masterpiece.