AskDefine | Define reckoner

Dictionary Definition



1 an expert at calculation (or at operating calculating machines) [syn: calculator, figurer, estimator, computer]
2 a handbook of tables used to facilitate computation [syn: ready reckoner]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. One who reckons.
  2. An accountant.

Extensive Definition

In Rainbows is the seventh album by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. It was first released on 10 October 2007 as a digital download, followed by a standard CD release in most countries during the last week of 2007. The album was released in North America on 1 January 2008. In Rainbows was Radiohead's first release after the end of their contract with EMI and the end of the longest gap between studio albums in their career.
In Rainbows was recorded in Somerset, Wiltshire, London and Oxfordshire with producers Mark Stent and Nigel Godrich. Radiohead worked on In Rainbows for more than two years, beginning in early 2005. In between recording, the band toured Europe and North America for three months in mid-2006. The songwriting on In Rainbows was more personal than that on Radiohead's other albums, with singer Thom Yorke describing most tracks as his versions of "seduction songs". The album earned widespread critical acclaim, and was ranked as one of the best albums of the year by several publications.


Recording history

After a break from writing and recording in 2004, Radiohead began work on their seventh studio album in mid-February 2005. Regular recording sessions began in August 2005, with the band updating fans on their progress intermittently in their new blog, Dead Air Space. Recording continued into early 2006, but the sessions were slow. According to Yorke, "we spent a long time in the studio just not going anywhere, wasting our time, and that was really, really frustrating." The delay was attributed to difficulty regaining momentum after their break, In the February 2006 sessions, they chose to work with producer Mark Stent instead of their longtime co-producer Nigel Godrich. Bassist Colin Greenwood, commenting on their decision, said "Nigel and the band know each other so well now, it's all got a little too safe." During their live sets, the band included songs they were working on in the studio. Yorke said on Dead Air Space that the band have "started the record properly now ... starting to get somewhere I think. Finally." Further sessions at Halswell House, Taunton, and Godrich's Hospital Studios in Covent Garden, where the band recorded "Videotape" and put together a final version of "Nude", took place in late December 2006. In late April, Yorke stated that Radiohead had a CD of material ready for consideration. In June, Godrich posted clippings of the mixed songs on Dead Air Space, among which were "Jigsaw Falling into Place" (known as "Open Pick" throughout 2006 performances), "Down Is the New Up", "Bangers + Mash", "All I Need", "Faust Arp" and "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi". Having completed recording the album in June, Radiohead mastered the album in July 2007 in New York City.

Music and lyrical content

sample box start In Rainbows The album features many of the tracks debuted on Radiohead's 2006 tour, including "15 Step", "Bodysnatchers", "All I Need" and "Videotape". "Arpeggi" and "Open Pick", songs debuted during the band's 2006 tour, also made their way onto the album, but were retitled "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" and "Jigsaw Falling into Place", respectively. The song "Nude", which premiered live during the OK Computer world tour, was finally released on In Rainbows, albeit with a different arrangement. "Reckoner" which originally premiered live in 2001, was also released on this album, but in a completely different form; Yorke and guitarist Jonny Greenwood worked on extra material for the song and subsequently abandoned the original material.
On the opening track "15 Step", the band enlisted the help of a group of children from the Matrix Music School & Arts Centre in Oxford. Colin Greenwood and Godrich originally set out to record handclaps for the song, but when the clapping proved "not quite good enough", they decided to record the children cheering instead. On "All I Need", Jonny Greenwood wanted to recapture the white noise generated by a band playing loudly in a room, a sound which never occurs in the studio. His solution was to have a string section play every note of the scale, blanketing the frequencies. Yorke described the process of composing "Videotape" as "absolute agony", stating that the song "went through every possible parameter". One day, Yorke left the studio, returning to find that Godrich and Jonny Greenwood had stripped the song down to the version found on the album, a minimal piano ballad. In another interview, Yorke said the album was "about the fucking panic of realising you're going to die! And that any time soon [I could] possibly [have] a heart attack when I next go for a run." Ed O'Brien described the lyrics, saying "They were universal. There wasn't a political agenda. It's being human." The song "Bodysnatchers" is inspired by Victorian ghost stories, the 1972 novel The Stepford Wives and Yorke's feeling of "your physical consciousness trapped without being able to connect fully with anything else." For the album, Donwood experimented with a photographic etching technique, putting prints into acid baths with random results. Donwood originally planned on doing an exploration on suburban life, but quickly realised it did not fit the album's sound, saying "it's a sensual record and I wanted to do something more organic." During the recording of the album, Donwood regularly put up images in the studio and on the studio computer, letting the band interact directly and comment on them. He also posted images daily on the band's website, though none of the images were used in the final album artwork. Donwood describing the album cover, said "it's very colourful—I've finally embraced colour! It's a rainbow but it is very toxic, it's more like the sort of one you'd see in a puddle." The band decided not to release the cover for the digital release of the album, preferring to hold it back for the physical release. The "discbox" release of the album includes a lyric booklet, containing additional artwork by Donwood. However, he ruled out Internet-only distribution because he felt some fans would not have the technological means to obtain the new material. Shortly before the band began writing new songs for the album, Yorke told Time, "I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say 'Fuck you' to this decaying business model." Radiohead retained ownership of the album recordings and song compositions for In Rainbows. The download and "discbox" versions of the album are self-released by the band, while for the physical release, the band licenced the music to record labels. The album's licencing agreements for all releases continue to be managed by the band's publisher, Warner Chappell Music Publishing. Bypassing a traditional physical release in stores, Radiohead released the album as a download available for order from on 10 October 2007. In a Wired interview, Yorke explained that "every record for the last four—including my solo record—has been leaked. So the idea was like, we'll leak it, then." Radiohead's managers have said that they would not have released the album as they did unless they were sure the physical CD would sell well. Writing about the unusual release method, Jon Pareles of The New York Times commented, "For the beleaguered recording business Radiohead has put in motion the most audacious experiment in years." The download, packaged as a ZIP file, included the ten album tracks encoded in 160 kbps DRM-free MP3 format. Upon purchase, the buyer was prompted to type in their desired price, plus a credit card transaction fee of 45 pence if purchased for more than 0 pence. The staggered online release of the album began at about 5:30 GMT on 10 October, but on 10 December 2007, the official digital download was no longer made available. A special made-to-order "discbox", available for pre-order through, was released on 3 December 2007. It contained the album on CD and two 12" heavyweight 45 rpm vinyl records with artwork and lyric booklets. The box included a second enhanced CD with eight additional tracks, as well as digital photos and artwork. The overall set, packaged in a hardcover book and slipcase, was priced at £40 (approx. US$80), and also included the MP3 download. The "discbox" version of the album will remain available for purchase via the online store until it is out of stock. in Australia on 29 December 2007 by Remote Control Records and in the U.S and Canada on 1 January 2008 by ATO imprint TBD Records and by MapleMusic/Fontana, respectively. Elsewhere around the world, the album was released on 31 December 2007 by independent record label XL Recordings. The CD release came in a cardboard package containing the CD, lyric booklet and several artwork stickers; this method of packaging encouraged a "do-it-yourself" style, whereupon the stickers were placed on an unused jewel case to create a package. In Rainbows was also the first album in Radiohead's catalog to be available for download in several digital music stores upon its release, such as the iTunes Store and Amazon MP3. On New Year's Eve 2007, Current TV streamed a webcast of Scotch Mist, a private concert filmed at Radiohead's Oxford studios; it not only featured the band performing In Rainbowss songs, but also included poetry and footage created or selected by the band. A music video contest for In Rainbows was announced in March 2008, when Radiohead partnered with animation site AniBOOM to create a contest where entrants put together storyboards for an animated music video. The winner, who will receive $10,000, will be chosen by AniBOOM, Radiohead, TBD Records and Adult Swim, which will also air the winning video. Radiohead will embark on a tour of North America, Europe, South America and Japan from May 2008 until the end of the year.


Sales and chart placings

In early October 2007, a spokesman for the band reported that "most people [paid] a normal retail price with very few trying to buy [the download version] for a penny" and that most fans had preordered the discbox. Citing a source close to the band, reported that by the day of its online release, the album had sold 1.2 million copies. The claim, however, has been dismissed by band manager Bryce Edge as "exaggerated". According to an Internet survey conducted by Record of the Day of 3,000 people, about one-third of people who downloaded the album paid nothing, with the average price paid being £4. When asked in a December 2007 interview by The Observer how many discboxes were ordered, the band members responded with various answers ranging between 60,000 and 80,000. However, most of the songs on the record began to get airplay on the modern rock radio stations in the United States following the album's internet release. The most successful song off the album, "Bodysnatchers", has peaked at number six on the U.S. Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. Mediabase noted that "Jigsaw Falling into Place", which was officially chosen as the first single, was the second most played song, peaking at number 69 in airplay on alternative rock-oriented stations. The album entered the Billboard 200 at number 156 due to street date violations, but reached number one on the chart the following week. The record sold 122,000 copies in the Unites States in its first week of official release, according to SoundScan. The band released "Jigsaw Falling into Place" and "Nude" as singles in the UK in early 2008, and they reached number 30 and number 21 on the UK Singles Chart, respectively.

Critical reception

In Rainbows received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, earning a rating of 88 out of 100 on Metacritic. Rolling Stone gave the album four and a half stars. Reviewer Rob Sheffield summarised the album as containing "No wasted moments, no weak tracks: just primo Radiohead." A review by NME described the album as "Radiohead reconnecting with their human sides, realising you [can] embrace pop melodies and proper instruments while still sounding like paranoid androids ... this [is] otherworldly music, alright." All Music Guide, in a positive review, noted that the album "will hopefully be remembered as Radiohead's most stimulating synthesis of accessible songs and abstract sounds, rather than their first pick-your-price download." Entertainment Weekly was also appreciative, calling the album "the gentlest, prettiest Radiohead set yet ... [it uses] the full musical and emotional spectra to conjure breathtaking beauty". Various reviewers, such as The Guardians Alexis Petridis, attributed the album's quality to the band's performance in the studio, claiming that the band sounded like they were enjoying themselves. Others, such as Billboard's Jonathan Cohen, commended the album on not being overshadowed by its marketing hype.
Blender's review, although mostly positive, commented on the album's lack of warmth, saying that it seemed "to be primarily composed of love songs ... that are starving for human connection but generate all the interpersonal warmth of a GPS system". Dusted was particularly negative, stating "[the songs] mostly seem like the byproduct of jams ... [which] doesn't play to [Radiohead's] strengths, which are Yorke's voice and their twisting chord progressions and melodies. Those things are both present on In Rainbows, but they're undercooked." The Wire was also critical of the album, noting that "there is ... a sense here of a group magisterially marking time, shying away ... from any grand, rhetorical, countercultural purpose." Yet cumulatively, the album was ranked as one of the best albums of 2007 by many music publications. It came in at the top spot in Billboard, Mojo and PopMatters' list. NME and The A.V. Club ranked the album third in their lists, Pitchfork and Q placed it fourth, while Rolling Stone and Spin ranked it sixth. |- |UK Albums Chart |align="center"|1 |- |Australian ARIA Albums Chart |align="center"|2 |- |Canadian Albums Chart |align="center"|1 |- |France Albums Chart |align="center"|1 |- |Irish Albums Chart |align="center"|1 |- |New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart |align="center"|2 |- |Germany Albums Chart |align="center"|8 |- |Japan Oricon Albums Chart |align="center"|11 |- |U.S. Billboard 200 |align="center"|1 |- |United World Chart |align="center"|1 |}
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