by Will Cummings

Over 20 years since the release of Amnesiac and its older sister album, Kid A, Radiohead has released a commemorative edition of the two albums. These albums being legendary goes without saying, Kid A, in particular, is viewed as one of the greatest records of all time. These albums produced some of my favorite songs ever, “The National Anthem” and “How to Disappear Completely” being neck-and-neck as the songs I have spent the most time listening to ever, but you cannot discount the likes of “Knives Out” and “Like Spinning Plates”. These two albums are phenomenal.

So what is Kid A Mnesia? It’s a triple album, featuring the aforementioned sister albums, and a collection of B-sides, alternate versions, and snippets. There are only 2 pure B-sides here, “Follow Me Around”, an acoustic guitar driven track with only Thom Yorke’s voice (with a slight effect) to accompany it. It’s a great track whose simplicity is to be admired, especially when observed in context with everything around it. “If You Say the Word” is the other B-side, a super spacious song with more effects on Yorke’s voice that add to the sense that the song is being played in an empty warehouse with deep echoes dancing around the listener. These, in addition to other non-album tracks throughout their discography, show the unreal standards the band holds their albums to. These are great songs that the band just held onto for two decades.

There is also a version of “Like Spinning Plates” that resembles many live performances of the song, being piano-driven rather than featuring the more trance-like reversed audio backbone of the original. I prefer this new version; it feels much more dire and powerful. “Fog” was released in an EP in 2001, and this newly released version is understated and doesn’t stand out much. The final alternate version is a combination of two songs, which I was beyond excited about. “Pulk/Pull” from Amnesiac is one of the strangest and most confusing songs in the band’s catalog, I personally don’t know if I enjoy it or tolerate it, but they have it mashed with the statistically proven saddest song, “True Love Waits” (check out rcharlie’s Gloom Index). This version works, I think. Either way, worth listening to if you’re curious.

The collection then shifts towards instrumental snippets and vast soundscapes that you will recognize if you’re familiar with the albums. These are all luscious as can be, especially “Disappear into Strings”, which is gorgeous and haunting, descending into that eerie hellscape at the end. These snippets also all flow into each other, which is a unique touch for a collection of scraps.

This little collection is a fairly decent celebration of these albums. If you feel there aren’t enough full songs here, a lot of the unfinished or simply scrapped songs are on the EPs released at the time (check out “Cuttooth” from the Knives Out EP!). The albums are masterpieces, and this new collection complements them well.