The End of the Long Form | Radiohead | Albums are a Drag
In an interview with The Believer magazine, which has yet to pop through my door annoyingly, Thom York has commented that Radiohead will probably not release another album. His reason? Making albums has ‘just become a real drag,’ and ‘none of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again.’
‘The problem isn’t the format – “obviously, there’s still something great about the album,” Yorke said – but with the scale and consistency of vision that is required.’
Instead, they’ll be going for shorter forms – like the EP of orchestral works they are planning – which allow them to ‘get stuck into it for a bit and see how it feels.’
I don’t blame them, or want to mourn their lack of vision or fake some Radiohead selling-out grief. But I do find this worrying in the broader vista of the arts. Scale and consistency of vision does require a huge investment of time and energy. But if people are simply not willing to invest this sort of energy then I think we will become a poorer society for it. OK Computer, Sergeant Pepper, 100 Years of Solitude… All of these are long form pieces that required huge time and effort from their creators, and unless people are prepared to make the sort of commitment to spend time creating, honing and editing them, then we simply won’t see the long form any more.
Short stories and blogs, but no novels.
EPs, but no albums.
Single canvases, but no series of works.
When the long form becomes a real drag, we are a culture in trouble. If we are only prepared to risk enough to ‘get stuck in for a bit and see how it feels’ I worry that we are going to lose the determined artistic vision that is the way ahead to newness. You know what Thom,
You ask me where the hell I’m going at thousand feet per second?
Hey man, slow down, slow down, idiot slow down, slow down…
Slow down, don’t worry about iTunes and the way the rest of music is going at crazy speeds. Take time create something of substance.