It’s almost strange to think that Radiohead is Children A and Amnesia albums were considered so esoteric, difficult to listen to twenty years ago. With the benefit of hindsight, they are simply part of the natural progression in sound from The Bends to the beloved OK Computer, which doubles the album’s themes of alienation and pressure. With the recent Kid A Mnesia re-release combining both albums into one long player, they are now officially as insoluble as they already were in many fans’ heads. And with this comes Kid A Mnesia: Exhibition, an exploration of art, music and mood as produced for and evoked by what are without a doubt Radiohead’s two most polarizing works.
In the form of the expected goose simulator, you are thrown into a sketchy, scratchy white forest. After a red light, you will find your way to a Radiohead museum of sorts, which somehow comforts electronic tones of ‘Everything in its proper place ‘ start serenading you. And from there, it’s a deep dive into two landmark albums, with the various hallways and paths populated by interactive exhibits based on classic songs from the two albums, their B-sides and the bonus tracks, and deeper clips from the Kid A Mnesia bonus disc.
To begin with, we had some concerns about the game, as it’s basically advertising – QR codes scattered throughout the museum lead a little unreasonably to Radiohead merch – but it delivers beyond what you would expect or even want from a free bind-in for a reissue. Each area is inspired by and / or the soundtrack to a song from the band. There’s the paranoia-colored ‘The national anthem‘room full of television and a telephone box screaming Thom York’s distorted vocals at you, the towering pillar of a room with the desolate, raw carving of’Children A‘soundtracking it, the changing space for concept art built around’I limbo‘… there is too much to detail it all, with drawings, writings and pictures that are completely around you all the time.
The game as it is plays its real ace when you read the midpoint, a space that combines’How to disappear completely‘,’Pyramid sang‘, and’You and whose army‘into an expansive, frightening journey into the abyss. The space you’re left in following this descent is absolutely nightmarish, one of the scariest short sequences we’ve ever seen in a game; some might find it ridiculous, but the effect of these three songs – three of Radiohead’s best and most evocative tracks – followed by the fragile Kid A Mnesia adaptation of ‘As Spinnerets‘, are downright joking things.
So much the better to experience in VR, which you – amazingly enough – can not. We are in doubt as to why this is so, but even without that extra layer of contemplation, we can not remember when we last experienced a piece of software so atmospheric. Of course, it helps that we are fans of the band, but even a beginner in their work should find something to appreciate here aesthetically and / or acoustically. It’s a stunning showcase for some amazing artists and shockingly generous at the low, low price of £ 0.00.
Have you tried Kid A Mnesia: Exhibition? Are you a big Radiohead fan? Try to remember in the comments section below.