Radiohead’s OK Computer is still of of the scariest albums I have ever heard. Its creepy factor is high. At the time that record came out, I was heavily into Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar, and I kid you not – both albums scared me, in very different ways.
Manson’s industrial rockstar shrieks and blood-curdling imagery was vivid, and it inspired me in ways I didn’t knew I liked. It was a revelation. OKC, on the other hand, scared me in a much more tangible way. I mean, Manson and his band are great at conjuring up everyday realities and disturbing thoughts. But the boys from Oxford did it with a more subtle approach. The song that scares me the most on that album is Fitter Happier, which is a poem accompanied by frontman Thom Yorke’s drunken piano playing. The text is spoken by a robot-like entity, and the voice was in fact generated by the Macintosh’s SimpleText application, Mac Fred. This is the song that scared me the most, because it is so human, so fragile, and juxtaposed with that cold, metallic voice – it produces something which caused my blood to run cold.
In the background of the track, the words “this is the panic office. Section 917 may have been hit” ”Activate following procedure” can be heard in a loop. The words are taken from the film Three Days of the Condor, a 1975 spy movie starring Robert Redford.
It creeped me out. The reason why this album is still one of the scariest things in my small collection is that it is still so very real. This album is not just a piece of music. It was and is a warning, in a way. And it came before so many things like tablets, smartphones, and high-speed internet. The way that Yorke writes his depression down on paper is very visceral, and combined with the effects, the atmosphere of the record – it is sometimes just too much to handle. By the time the closing track, The Tourist, is played, you have been through such a journey. It affects me the way Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon affected me when I first heard it. It makes you stop and ask questions. And I am not even talking about questions relating to the genius of the music and the musicians, but about questions pertaining to oneself and one’s place in the world.