Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Harves’ Matthew Wright – Radiohead’s Kid A (2000)
Dear Kid A,
My first experience with you was a difficult one. Initially I didn’t really understand what you were laying out in front of me. I was young, impatient and I wanted the instant payoff that I was used to getting with Radiohead’s more user-friendly releases. I quickly dismissed you as something I couldn’t connect with. I didn’t realise at the time, but I was getting one of the most important lessons I’ve ever been taught in music- just because something doesn’t sit right with you on the first listen, doesn’t mean it’s not right for you.
Once I finally put in the time and broke through with you, you were responsible for one of the most transformative musical experiences I’ve ever had in my life. You completely changed the way I approach writing and made me realise how narrow-minded I was.
Your opening track, ‘Everything in its Right Place’, is one of the greatest pieces of music ever created, and it couldn’t be more simple. There’s only three elements — a vocal, a synth (Prophet-5) and a kick drum. It leaves me wanting so much more, but that’s the point. That song taught me the importance of restraint. Restraint has become something of a mantra for Harves. It’s so easy to go overboard when you’re in the studio, but often times, the best thing you can do is keep ideas in their most basic form.
‘The National Anthem’ makes me want to set things on fire. When things start to fall apart with the brass section toward the end, I feel like a hole is being ripped in the space-time continuum. I can’t imagine how incredible that must have been to be there in person. If this record is meant to be a “F*ck you” from Radiohead, then this song is the ultimate embodiment of that.
In my opinion, ‘How to Disappear Completely’ is easily the most beautiful song Radiohead have ever released. The lyrics, melody and arrangement are all absolutely perfect. Jonny’s orchestral work in this track is genius. A single dissonant note that absolutely should not work, sits over nearly the whole track, then just when things get too much, the resolve hits and it’s completely mesmerising. I don’t know if they can ever top a song like this.
‘Optimistic’ is probably the least experimental sounding song on the record, but it still sits perfectly amongst the other tracks. The guitar work in this song is spectacular. Hanson do a next level cover of this song which everyone should absolutely check out (not even kidding).
Your final track, ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ has to be the most perfect funeral song ever written. I’ve always told people that’s what I would want played at mine. The final lyric, “I will see you in the next life…”, never fails to destroy me. If there is a Heaven, I think ascension would sound like this song.
I really believe that you are one of the most important releases of all-time. Not only did you open the door for Radiohead to break free of their roots and do whatever the hell they wanted to, but you paved the way for people like myself to do the same. Did I mention that you changed my life?
Harves is made up of Matthew Wright (The Getaway Plan front man) and Samuel K Sproull (Japanese Wallpaper & Montgomery engineer).
“After realising we were gonna be stuck inside for a while, we committed ourselves to using the time to sort out a workflow that meant we could finish a bunch of new material that was hovering about,” said the duo.
“It’s been nice to develop some focus around these songs and get them finished instead of constantly throwing paint at the canvas.”
Their latest single ‘The River’ is out now. Listen below.