Back during the hoopla of Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want craze for In Rainbows the band posted several tracks that made up their song “Nude.” They held a contest for people to remix the song and some of the entries were pretty worthwhile. The problem was the song was in 6/8 time with only about 60 bpm (beats per minute).
The contest wasn’t really fair because most of the submissions clocked in at the standard 4/4 time with layers of the original song thrown in. It wasn’t so much a remix as it was a paste and cut job.
James Houston didn’t get his submission in on time for the contest, but he did create something truly spectacular. Something that works as a recreation of the song on one level and on another level pays homage to Radiohead’s infatuation with technology and computers.
Using obsolete technology like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum for the guitars, HP Scanjet 4c for bass, an array of harddrives for vocals and FX, and Epson LX-86 dot matrix printer as drums, Houston has created a song which is horrible. As he notes, “I grouped together a collection of old redundant hardware, and placed them in a situation where they’re trying their best to do something that they’re not exactly designed to do, and not quite getting there. It doesn’t sound great, as it’s not supposed to.”
Yet, at about the 1:45 mark of the song, when all the instruments coalesce it does sound like something wonderfully strange. A song created in the past with the future in mind.
Also, here is the Radiohead version for comparison’s sake. This was filmed during their Scotch Mist performance.