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.
Majak Door — Radiohead OK Computer (1997)
Radiohead’s OK Computer found its way to me on a USB drive when I was 17 years old. Various records from the group had floated by in my periphery but I had never been grabbed by them. I’d found albums such as In Rainbows and Kid A to be too wafty and ethereal, too experimental for the mainstream sensibilities I’d been raised with.
OK Computer presented the perfect compromise between catchy accessibility and innovation (and a gateway into the varied works of Radiohead beyond). I was hooked – I listened to the album on repeat for months during my daily commute from Rosebud to Frankston, only 14 years after the album had made its debut. On one such occasion, I was listening to the album as I crossed the school oval and thinking to myself: “Man, I wish I had this in hard copy”.
Mere seconds later I saw a shining rectangle on the grass before me – it was an OK Computer cassette. A dying format, and I didn’t have the means to play the tape anyway, but this curious and fated moment sealed my destiny as a life-long Radiohead fan.
Initially, the approachable rock aspect of OK Computer is what drew me in and made me comfortable, but ultimately the spatial, textural and compositional exploration is what excited and inspired me. It was a psychedelic star-mission with Thom’s jaded drawl at the helm, offering some bitter assurance in what was, for me, an uncertain and unheard-of sonic world.
What I noticed first was the variety in texture! You could carve ice with Jonny’s guitar tone in ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’. Colin’s bass sound in the final verse of ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’ was the fattest thing I had yet heard in my young life. I remember rewinding the track over and over again to hear Phil’s drum fill into the verse and bask in the hugeness of it. You could eat that tone in a sandwich.
For months the album remained the centrepiece of my very limited collection. At one time or another every song had been my favourite. The relationship I had with OK Computer came during my formative years as a musician and whetted my appetite for things odd, unorthodox, but rooted in beautiful, consumable harmony (for the most part!) and opened my ears to Radiohead’s eclectic back catalogue.
Majak Door are a Melbourne-based surf-rock sextet who’ve just revealed their carefree new single ‘Will She Leave You’, mixed by Daniel Caswell (Dune Rats, Bad//Dreems, The Living End).
Its salty-sweet sun-drenched indie-rock makes me thirsty for a watermelon margarita. A shoe-in for any self-respecting summer playlist.