letters always get burned

Ian Anderson, Wooden Elephant:

Ever since I first heard OK Computer when I was 12 years old, Radiohead have been one of the few musical constants in my life. Other bands and composers have come and gone, but Radiohead have always been there to inspire, move, and challenge me. So when asked to make a follow-up to Wooden Elephant’s version of Björk’s Homogenic for PODIUM Esslingen 2018, I decided to create my own tribute to my musical masters. The album? Their career-defining surge into the world of electronics: Kid A.

Aside from the musical material, Wooden Elephant’s acoustic version of Kid A owes itself to Radiohead in another way. One of the ensembles I play with regularly is the London Contemporary Orchestra, and from 2014 we collaborated with Jonny Greenwood in a series of projects which culminated in a tour of Europe with Jonny’s string music, and our subsequent appearance on Radiohead’s latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool. Along the way I got to witness Jonny’s constant experimentation with string techniques, some of which — such as detuned strings and Pacay bean shakers — made it into our version of Kid A (and last year’s version of Björk’s Homogenic). But it was more his overall mindset of always asking “but what happens if you do this?”, and “but what happens if you hit it with that”, that really had a big impact on the way that I approach composition and arrangements in general.

And once you start down that path of introducing foreign objects into traditional string performance, it’s very hard to stop. Milk-frothers, tuning forks, toy handbells, coat hangers, bathroom sink plug-chains, and party blowers, to name just a few. They all make an appearance, as well as a whole host of other objects that have no right to be anywhere near an old Italian violin.

So come join us for our Radiohead-inspired acoustic version of their seminal electronic album, Kid A.


Wooden Elephant's version of Radiohead's Kid A was premiered at PODIUM Festival, Esslingen, on 3rd May 2018.