Much to my surprise, and likely just about everyone else, Radiohead’s new album, The King of Limbs, their eighth, will be released Saturday (February 19) in digital format only, similar to In Rainbows (only for the digital music, not the price), with a physical release to follow March 28 on XL Recordings. When I posted a few months back about bands and musicians in the studio, I guessed somewhere from April to June, I definitely was not expecting it so quickly. However without having to worry about a physical release, and major labels, that no doubt expedites the process.
A special pre-ordered version will ship May 9. This ‘newspaper’ release will come with “many large sheets of artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradeable plastic to hold it all together” according to the website for The King of Limbs. (On a mostly unrelated sidenote, the In Rainbows website is still up, but just points the visitor to the official Radiohead site.
They are not releasing it as a ‘pay what you want’ release as they did with In Rainbows. I do not believe the information was ever revealed, however I am guessing, for the most part, that is not a sustainable way to release music, at least not on a regular basis, even if the most of musicians revenue comes from means outside of the selling of their music (concerts, royalties, etc.).
As mentioned, the digital release is this Saturday. Pre-order options are MP3 (320K constant bit rate) or WAV (uncompressed digital audio file). Prices are about what one would expect to pay for digital music, or the physical copy as well.
The name of the new album relates to an oak tree in Wiltshire’s Savernake Forest, thought to be around 1,000 years old. The forest lies around three miles away from Tottenham House, a listed country house where Radiohead recorded part of ‘In Rainbows’.
The tree is a pollarded oak, referring to an ancient technique for harvesting timber for fencing and firewood. The phrase also appears in the 23rd chapter of the Qu’ran.
Rumour has it, that it will feature eight tracks, but Jonny Greenwood did clarify a few months ago when they were in the studio that it would include 10, maybe more. We will know for sure in a little less than 48 hours.