Ed O’Brien – Earth
Famed for creating decades of atmospheric sounds as guitarist and king of effects for rock band Radiohead, Ed O’Brien brings his musical prowess and personal influences to the table with debut album Earth. This solo opportunity, released under the alias EOB, is an understated record that doesn’t entirely leave the orbit of its Radiohead roots but equally does not shy away from new experimentation. Despite the group’s iconic status and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it has taken until now for the artist to unveil a solo body of work. O’Brien may never have been the band’s frontman, but his voice and experience shine through the engaging and mature nine-track release.
Some close-to-home storytelling takes place primarily through textures and thoughtful soundscapes, the very ones that O’Brien has become renowned for through the years. Shangri-La is a layered, upbeat and funky electronic opener with a rocky edge that introduces the artist’s effortless falsetto. There are also celestial sounds in Mass, poignant reflection in Deep Days, and Olympik, which feels like a kaleidoscopic exploration and funky rave in one. It would certainly be a feast for the senses when performed live. Most tracks are slow builds that entice the listener into a journey, with some near-approaching the ten-minute mark. Brasil is another full-length highlight. A reflection of O’Brien’s year spent living in the country, it transforms from dreamy folk to rhythmic colourful house in an eight-minute epic. This is an album of subtle range, as reflected in the exploration of a softer acoustic sound with the wistful Long Time Coming and Laura Marling collaboration Cloak of the Night. The closest match to signature Radiohead is Banksters, with vocals reminiscent of Thom Yorke and lyrics politically charged for good measure too.
Like the moniker, EOB’s lyrics are minimalistic and not particularly inventive, although lines like “I had to dream”, “I’m not going back” and “it’s been a long time coming” could easily take on double meanings. Like the lyrics, the vocals also take a backseat. The musician originally didn’t want to feature his own singing, but it satisfyingly works in complementing and establishing each respective mood. O’Brien has previously likened his role within Radiohead to creating a canvas – and with Earth, he has filled a blank canvas with experimental but familiar colour. Hopefully, fans will not have to wait decades for the artist’s next exhibition.
Photo: Eliot Lee Hazel
Earth is released on 17th April 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Ed O’Brien’s website here.
Watch the video for Shangri-La here: