Fear stalks the territory!, the book where the leader of Radiohead reveals the existence of another Thom Yorke

Fear stalks the territory!, the book where the leader of Radiohead reveals the existence of another Thom Yorke
Fear stalks the territory!, the book where the leader of Radiohead reveals the existence of another Thom Yorke

“This is a sketchbook / open it at random / it’s mutilated / recycled / crossed out / it’s a diary / it’s a record / it’s the sound of the soundproof room / the reflections of a hall of mirrors / if you don’t have time for that, then you’re just like me most of the time / we’re goldfish in a bowl / the pages come and go as we see fit / do what you want with them or ignore them as you like / thank you for visiting.”

The previous fragment, which can be read on page 237, perfectly defines the content that the reader will be able to find in Fear stalks the territory!the book that combines texts and illustrations made between Thom Yorke, singer, guitarist and alma mater of the British Radiohead, and designer Stanley Donwood, responsible for the graphic art of the band’s albums.

Two powers

From the subtitle, this volume published in Spanish by the publishing house Sexto Piso defines itself as “a miscellaneous book.” That is, it is composed of loose, diverse pieces, belonging to different genres and of different origins. These are texts and drawings that the authors produced from exchanges that took place between 1999 and 2000, immediately after Radiohead released the album OK Computerthe most successful of his discography, in 1997.

In its pages it is possible to find, above all, poetry. Among them are most of the lyrics from the band’s next two albums, Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), in which those led by Yorke deepened the introspective and melancholic line crystallized in their predecessor.

Some of these texts became a song line by line, but others are just cuts and fragments that Yorke took from longer pieces. In these cases, the complete compositions manage to expand the meaning of what the songs already expressed, also allowing us to witness a part of the creative act normally hidden from the public. In that sense, Radiohead fans will find in Fear stalks the territory! an additional reason to get lost in its pages. Which does not mean that they will be the only ones capable of enjoying the beauty of his writings and illustrations.

history of fear

The drawings in particular combine the gothic and cubist with pop and surrealism, resulting in images in which the gloomy predominates. It will not surprise anyone to find in them many points of contact with the works of other dark artists, such as that of the American Edward Gorey, published in Spanish by the Libros del Zorro Rojo label, and even that of the filmmaker Tim Burton, whose volume The melancholic death of Oyster Boy It used to be available in the Anagrama edition. The combination manages to be effective not only because its strokes condense the spirit that inhabits the words, but because it manages to give shape to a visual identity that expands the concept of the textual framework.

It is not wrong to define Fear stalks the territory! as the full expression of two creative minds in what, in retrospect, can be considered the highest point of their careers. Some texts even hint at the uncomfortable moment that Yorke had to go through after the peak of popularity represented by an album like OK Computer.

In “Despegar”, one of the first texts, the singer writes: “One rainy day while I am buying food / I am surrounded by an ever-growing crowd that believes I can fly / It seems that a serious mistake has been made: / the local newspaper has published an article about a gentleman who really does possess that enviable talent, / but they have put my photograph at the top of the article […]” In a Borgesian way, the singer recognizes the existence of “another” Yorke, who is “the one who comes up with things.” Maybe he doesn’t know which of the two wrote this book or the Radiohead songs either.

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