When you've built your career on taking risks and experimenting, people develop expectations – and whether you think Radiohead are whingey, shoegazing miserablists or inspired creative geniuses, you can't deny that their newest video is a departure from the norm.
The promo, for slow-moving single House of Cards, was shot using only lasers and scanners and newly developed realtime 3D recording, giving it a uniquely glitchy, alien feel. The video has just been premiered on Google – another first – along with a making-of video in which Zoo Films' James Frost, the promo's director, talks over the project.
"Radiohead are the only band who would take that risk," he explains, detailing the technologies used to shoot the video, Geometric Informatics and Velodyne LIDAR. Geometric Informatics produces images of close-up subjects by firing structured light at the subject, in a similar way to how bats produce sonic 'images' by emitting squeaks and measuring the echoes.
Velodyne LIDAR, which is used for landscapes and larger environments (including the sections shot in a Florida cul-de-sac) comprises a scanner with 64 lasers, which is rotated at 900rpm to form a complete image.
The results are strange, scratchily high-tech and eerily beautiful.
To add that aura of 'angsty-robot' that is one of Radiohead's trademarks, Frost and his team experimented with ways to disrupt the lasers and prevent the shots from being too clean – playing with everything from mirrors and water-covered glass to feathers.
It's a bold video, and the technique has potential, especially when blended with other techniques. As with so many other Radiohead projects, it demands concentration and isn't immediately pleasing – but in an era of YouTube instant gratification, perhaps a little deferred pleasure is no bad thing. What do you make of it?