Radiohead "Supercollider" and "The Butcher"

Those of us who purchased the Radiohead album The King Of Limbs as a digital download before April 18th received a pleasant surprise this week. The band thanked us by offering free downloads of two additional tracks, titled “Supercollider” and “The Butcher”.

These tracks were released on a limited edition 12-inch vinyl single as a Record Store Day item. The song on the B-side, “The Butcher”, was recorded during the King Of Limbs sessions. The A-side, “Supercollider”, was begun during those sessions but was finished this past March. Although both songs use the same basic ingredients – jittery beats, languid soundscapes, low-volume falsetto vocals – as the songs on The King Of Limbs, both of these tracks would probably stand apart (and stand out) if they had been included on the album. “Supercollider” is a seven-minute song with a fuller sound than most of the tracks on The King Of Limbs. Its use of keyboards makes it somewhat reminiscent of the more laid-back entries in the ‘80’s synth-rock genre. “The Butcher” has a somewhat more organic sound, although it could very well have been recorded the same way as the other songs from these sessions. That song has a spooky aura possibly created with the use of a Theremin.

When I listen to The King Of Limbs, my feeling is that it would not have been well-received if it were simply released through traditional commercial channels, especially on a major label. But the two tracks on this single do not leave the same impression. If Radiohead were still on EMI, for example, it’s not hard to imagine that label releasing these two songs. It’s hard to speculate whether this more accessible sound was conscious or accidental. In any case, both of these songs are quite good, though neither is as challenging as much of the band’s past work. Either Radiohead have stopped attempting to break new musical ground, or the world has caught up with them.

Radiohead “Supercollider” b/w “The Butcher” (single) (Ticker Tape Ltd. TICK002) 2011

Track Listing:

a. Supercollider
b. The Butcher

Radiohead - Supercollider / The Butcher

Note: Some of the vinyl copies had the stickers placed on the wrong sides of the vinyl, labeling the “Supercollider” side as the “Butcher” side and vice versa.