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Hear Thom Yorke’s Head-Nodding DOOM Collabo ‘Retarded Fren’


Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and guitarist Jonny Greenwood have joined forces with the rapper formerly known as MF Doom, and the results are neatly the sum of its parts — darkly futuristic electro-orchestral murk undulating beneath fiercely free-associative rhymes. Some have deemed the trio’s collaboration on the stupidly titled “Retarded Fren” to be kind of surprising, but Radiohead have been longtime Doom fans (Yorke remixed Doom’s “Gazzillion Ear”) and we’re not exactly in Jack White vs. Insane Clown Posse territory here. The new track, set to appear on a compilation commemorating the 10th anniversary of eclectic U.K. indie label Lex Records, brings together all the elements you might expect from each of the three artists, and you can listen to it below (via Pitchfork).

Unlike on Yorke’s remix of DOOM’s “Gazzillion Ear,” from the MC’s 2009 Born Like This LP, the Radiohead frontman doesn’t deliver any ghostly murmurs here. Instead, the track kicks of with a lurching, clattering rhythm section, topped by some busily IDM-tinged drum-machine clatter: just the kind of vaguely ominous, atmospherically textured, forward-thinking production you might hear on one of Yorke’s recent radio mixes. The creepy strings suggest Greenwood’s own cinematic solo work. And on top is DOOM, with his heady, tongue-twisting flow. When the beat drops out, everything comes together.