HOW TO LISTEN: DECKS DARK by Radiohead

MUSIC LISTENED BY A MUSICIAN

Since the release of A Moon Shaped Pool, among the songs I’m waiting to hear every time I hit play, there’s Decks Dark, a twilight song. This song aims to convey an inevitable sense of inner threat from which it is not possible to escape. The instrumental part emphasizes the words of the text, accompanying every emotion expressed by the words.

Let’s start

Decks Dark starts with caution (at about 69.5 bpm), with an old-fashioned dry heavily filtered electronic drum, to which we immediately respond, in our right ear, various sounds probably obtained with a piano strongly wet by delays and reverbs that remain, also these, exclusively on the right channel. The voice enters without pleasantries, along with a piano arpeggio that plays exclusively on the left channel. Shortly thereafter, another piano is added, on the right channel, which timidly plays only the chords.

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In you darkest hours

In your darkest hours“, sings Thom, and at that moment the electric bass peeps like a very short prelude to the acoustic drums that follows the same groove of the previous drums. Here the instrumental part seems to open and breathe (enter the choirs dubbed left and right, a rhythmic electric guitar with a very “fuzzy” distortion on the left channel, probably obtained by saturating a preamp) while the piano riff changes and becomes pounding. The passage arouses in me the inevitability as a fact.

And in your life, there comes a darkness

The verse starts again. “And in your life, there comes a darkness“, while the piano arpeggio on the left comes back and the “upset” plan on the right as we met in the first verse. The difference with the first verse is that we now also have an electric guitar that offers the support of the chords in our right ear. Then again here it insists the acoustic drums and the bass guitar that seems to want to tell its story, offering more than the simple accompanying tone, as instead returns to make sustained while Thom says “In your darkest hour”. Immediately afterwards, a short pause is left before the groove that accompanies a guitar that carries out a riff on the left channel, with the addition of a vintage echo effect, probably emphasized by a spring reverb on a picked string or something similar. At the center of our view, stands the piano that hammers its chords with more energy. And while a further very saturated guitar gives a sustained phrasing loaded with delay, Thom abandons himself in “If you had another one / If you had another name / So dark / We will never, never know / So dark” with his voice wet of reverb, until the short instrumental crescendo does not culminate in an immediate stop, which leaves only the “memory” of what has been, thanks to the effects of delay that now resonate and then disappear completely.

If you like Decks Dark, maybe you could appreciate Let Me Sleep

In conclusion

In reality there are other elements within the instrumental part that should be described and commented, but I think most of the musical message comes from what I have just described.

If you have a song you want me to talk to, write me an email and propose. As soon as I have time, I try to do it.

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