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Thom Yorke: ‘Kid A,’ the Radiohead album that set out what music would be like in 2021 | USA

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This story begins in 1997 with the Radiohead album OK Computer. Before this record, the English band had released two guitar-heavy albums that placed them at the forefront of the British alternative rock music scene. OK Computer was a more ambitious, mysterious and committed album. In the midst of the nationalistic optimism of Britpop, with then-prime minister Tony Blair and his Labour Party in power, Radiohead looked behind the mirror and forecast the dystopian future that was just around the corner. OK Computer exalted the band, but incurred the wrath of many critics who derided it for being pretentious.

That same tension was also being felt within the five band members: Thom Yorke, brothers Jonny and Colin Greenwood, Philip Selway and Ed O’Brien. The documentary Meeting People Is Easy revealed the unease the musicians were experiencing during their world tour for OK Computer and looked at their discomfort with fame. At the end of the tour, the band was exhausted. The members were in crisis, suffering from writer’s block and there were concerns the group might break up. Amid these problems, recording their fourth album stretched on for 18 months. The band wanted to break with the typical melodies and structures of rock and draw on influences from electronic music, ambient music, krautrock and jazz. The rise of groups imitating Radiohead’s sound also contributed to their desire to break with their past .

“Ninety percent of groups that call themselves alternative aren’t. An alternative group is one that brings something new and there are very few of them. Groups constantly repeat their formula,” Ed O’Brien told EL PAÍS in 2000. The musicians gave themselves the challenge of working with synthesizers and using instruments they didn’t know how to play.

Radiohead decided to release what was going to be a double album as two separate records. Kid A was released first in October 2000, and was followed by Amnesiac seven months later. Now, a reissue of both records called Kid a Amnesia is reimagining what they would have been like as a double album. The reissue, which is set to be released on November 5, also features a third disc, Kid Amnesiae, which contains previously unreleased material from the recording sessions of both albums.

Kid A and Amnesiac are considered today as a watershed moment for the band. This is particularly true of the former, which reached number one in the United Kingdom and in the United States. This was the first time Radiohead had had a record that topped the charts in the US. Many music critics lambasted the album when it first came out, but over time it won praise: magazines such as Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and The Times named it the best album of 2000.

Kid A was not just a musical milestone for Radiohead, it also revolutionized industry practice. The band decided to take advantage of its status and set down its own rules on how it wanted to release the album. There was minimal promotion. They didn’t release singles or music videos, and only sent out 10-second-long animated films with music and artwork called “blips,” setting the precedent for today’s teasers, Instagram stories and TikTok videos.

On the day of its release, London radio stations had to play the album in its entirety and in the correct order, without having received an advance copy. Radiohead refused to do a photoshoot for the British magazine Q, and instead provided digitally altered portraits of the band members looking like alien-like monsters. These images were projected onto the Houses of Parliament in London and placed on posters and billboards to turn Radiohead “back into a product,” Yorke said.

Kid A is also considered to be the first album that used the internet as the main channel for promotion. In 1997, Radiohead were already web pioneers: they opened an official webpage and forum, and were connecting and communicating with the main fan websites of the band. In 1999, Ed O’Brien started a blog on which he discussed the process of recording the new album. The first songs of Kid A were heard on June 15, 2000, in Tívoli Theater in Barcelona, where the band was starting their four-month European tour before the release of the album. Influenced by the book No Logo by Naomi Klein, the band wanted the tour to be free of sponsors.

The concert in Barcelona was filmed and widely shared online. Kid A was also leaked on the peer-to-peer file sharing network Napster. Thom Yorke was sympathetic towards the fans who had pirated the album, and the band decided to introduce an application on their website that allowed anyone to stream the record and embed it for free on their webpages. They were the first band to do this. Just as the world was entering a new millennium, Radiohead changed the paradigm of the kind of relationship a successful artist should have with the media, the industry and the public. It marked a point of no return for the band – one which, according to journalist Steven Hyden, invented contemporary music culture as we know it today.



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German doctor faces charges after administering thousands of self-made vaccines

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A millionaire German doctor is facing criminal charges after vaccinating an estimated 20,000 people with a self-developed vaccine against Covid-19.

Some 200 people were queueing for a jab at the airport in the northern city of Lübeck on Sunday when police arrived and closed down the improvised vaccination centre.

A police spokesman said doctors had already administered about 50 vaccines: not from BioNTech or Moderna or another recognised producer, but a home brew by Dr Winfried Stöcker.

The controversial doctor, who is also the owner of Lübeck airport, insists his jab is 97 per cent effective against Covid-19.

Dr Stöcker was not present, did not administer vaccinations and faces no charges, according to his lawyer Wolfgang Kubicki, a leading member of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP), which is part of Berlin’s new coalition government.

Lübeck state prosecutors see things differently. On Monday, they announced an investigation into four doctors, aged between 61 and 81, for involvement in the unauthorised vaccination centre.

Dr Stöcker may also face legal action for running an unlicensed vaccination campaign, which is considered a criminal offence under Germany’s Medicines Act. 

Contacted by the Bild tabloid, Dr Stöcker said he had not submitted his vaccine for approval because the process would “take too long and cost millions”.

“We have a responsibility to the patients, not the state, but the police stopped everything,” said the 74-year-old.

In May 2020 Dr Stöcker claimed to have developed a traditional vaccine – without any external assistance – similar to that used against tetanus, using inactive pathogen cells to activate the body’s immune system.

The doctor says he tested the jab on himself and some 100 volunteers before rolling out the vaccinations around the country. In total, he claims some 20,000 people have received a dose of his vaccine.

“Some 2,000 of them are under observation, no side effects were noted to date,” he said. “There were virus breakthroughs in 10 people.”

‘Lubecavax’

On his website, he says his “Lubecavax”, a three-dose vaccine, has proven highly effective. Some 376 friends and colleagues were vaccinated with the substance during the summer, he wrote, and “97 per cent developed high concentrations of antibodies against coronavirus”.

“In our view the ‘Lübeck vaccine’ is safe, effective and presumably the most suitable vaccine for children,” he adds in a blog post. “Doctors have the right to mix together compounds that they believe will help people.”

In this assertion he is drawing on a 2000 German constitutional court ruling which forbade federal authorities from prohibiting an experimental treatment of two doctors using stem cells.

News of the rogue vaccination has horrified German medical authorities. The Paul Ehrlich Institute, which is responsible for approval of medicines and vaccines in Germany, said on Monday it had offered Dr Stöcker assistance with testing in September and December of last year, but that he had not responded to the institute’s offers.

The hurdles to vaccination licensing “are deliberately high”, the institute added, “to ensure the maximum possible security for participants in clinical trials”.

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Denmark school closes due to suspected Omicron Covid-19 case

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Odense Municipality confirmed the closure in a statement on Monday after informing parents and pupils on Sunday evening.

The Danish Patient Safety Authority (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed) said on Monday morning that the case is suspected of being linked to the new Omicron variant.

READ ALSO: Denmark does not rule out new travel restrictions after Omicron variant detected

The authority recommends contact tracing up to “third” contacts, or people who have been in contact with suspected close contacts to the confirmed or “first” case.

Pupils and teachers in the same class as the confirmed or “first” case are considered “second” contacts, with close contacts to the class the “third” link.

People who fall into these categories are asked to isolate at home until they have tested negative on the fourth and sixth days since the potential contact.

The school is closed as of Monday while contact tracing is undertaken.



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Trees go to pot to ensure many festive returns

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Christmas trees aren’t just for Christmas, at least for the Cork business with a pot-grown tree initiative that sees householders rent their tree in early December and bring it back to the farm in early January, to be cared for all year around.

Colm Crowley from Glanmire says his 5ft trees, which are rented out for €40 a year, are a very sustainable way to celebrate Christmas.

Customers can rent or buy a living Christmas tree in a pot from Cork Pot Grown Christmas Trees. The rented ones are then taken back to the farm in Rosscarbery, west Cork, after the festive season.

“I started off with small pot-grown trees and I started selling them for €10 or €15 and a lot of customers were coming in asking, ‘have you anything bigger?’ It got me thinking that there was a market for bigger pot-grown Christmas trees.

‘Always alive’

“With the pot-grown trees, they are never dead. They are always alive. They continue to take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide oxygen as well,” he says.

“They come with a care leaflet. The water would be the big one: making sure they have enough water but not too much because too much would cause root rot,” he says.

“I found that pot-grown trees are very big in America and it has started spreading to Germany and the UK. I knew that Irish people would love it.”

It takes 12-14 years to grow a Christmas tree from seed, with a lot of work involved in pruning, shaping and making the tree perfect.

“It is only used for four weeks. With the pot growns, we get to use the tree over and over. That said, cut Christmas trees are also very environmentally friendly because when a tree is cut in November, another one or two are planted in spring. With the pot growns, between November and spring that cycle continues, so for those few months the Christmas trees continue to take the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide oxygen.”

As rental trees will continue to grow throughout the year, Crowley is anticipating customers not recognising their tree when it is returned to them the following Christmas.

‘Exact same tree’

“They send me pictures looking for the exact same tree,” he says.“With the rentals, you are getting the same Christmas tree you liked and picked out. But it will have continued to grow. There is a lovely smell – you are bringing a bit of forest in your house.”

Crowley says the real Christmas tree business has grown hugely since he first started selling, from his mother Margaret’s house in Ballinlough, Cork city, in 1998 before moving to bigger premises.

Last year was particularly buoyant for sales as families sought to create a festive atmosphere during the pandemic.

“Sales right across the country were probably up around 50 per cent. People wanted a bit of happiness. They needed cheering up.”

Customers are encouraged to name their trees, with the two most popular names being “Spruce Springsteen” and “Woody”.

The father of two adds that he couldn’t survive the December whirlwind without the hard work of wife Jacqui and mother-in-law Rose.



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