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Stanley Donwood on The Universal Sigh

Stanley Donwood, one of the chief creative minds behind all of Radiohead’s artwork, has penned a column for the NME outlining the impetus behind the release of The Universal Sigh last week.

On newspapers in general:

The newspaper thing began some months previously, in the summer. I’d left a newspaper on a bench in the sun, and when I returned to get it a few hours later it had already begun its inevitable decay; the paper had rippled slightly, the whiteness was yellowing, and it was feeling more brittle and delicate than it had before. I thought that this constituted a wonderful medium.

On the relationship between newspapers and The King Of Limbs:

The last packaging that I’d produced for a record was the hefty chunk of cardboard and paper that accompanied ‘In Rainbows’, but something of that kind was entirely inappropriate for this new record, which was very much more a state-of-play document.

After a lengthy concatenation of ideas, the usual meetings, conversations, work, doubt, worry and fear of the unknown, we had produced a large-format 36-page full colour newspaper which was to be presented, along with various other articles with the record ‘The King of Limbs’.

Emphasis mine. I know we’ve heard similar comments before but once again The King Of Limbs is being described by someone close to the band as “state-of-play” rather than the definitive document of what the band have been up to the last couple years. Thoughts, anyone?

Stanley has a lot more to say about the release of The Universal Sigh, so head on over to the NME to read all about it.

Stanley also recently updated his blog where he stated, “since I last posted anything here on this stupid blog much has occurred, some planned, some unexpected. We gave out the newspapers, so one secret is out.”

One secret? More to come perhaps? Let the inevitable over-analysis begin.

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  • neat

  • second!

  • ☆☆☆☆☆ @ChieftanMews
    Ims menoo indeed.
    I’m liking this all a bit too much

  • Thanks for posting!

    Fascinating reasoning. “The King of Limbs” isn’t meant to be a definitive statement, but a more passing statement, which I take to mean MORE MUSIC COMING! DON’T TAKE “THE KING OF LIMBS” TOO SERIOUSLY! Yeah, baby! Come on, “Present Tense” and “Burn the Witch!”

  • Behind the idea of news paper, I love the idea of going back to basic and tactile, but struggle between practicality & romanticism with our overpopulated consumers on earth — human.

    I think Radiohead struggles with this issue as well, by their action and their use of musical instruments.

    “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” — Albert Einstein

    Sorry, go off on a tangent a little. 😛


    Maybe, maybe not. Maybe definitive/passing statement applies to themselves in their future pursuing career?

  • man . doesn t hurt to say again [ out of context sorry ] i can t stop listening to it – its been like 2 months [ ? ] and i cannot stop listening to it – the fact that it s a short album doens t affect me but, instead let me go through it more and more times because when i realize i am into a beautiful musical trip its over so i have to start again – i ve been like this everyday for [ again ] 2 months now . is there more coming ? i wish i can get the butcher/collider on vinyl and by may 9 [ ? ] when i receive the newspaper album my turntable will be blessed forever – [ well . . . . even when i accept that i skip give up the ghost once in a while . . . ] . I CANNOT STOP AND WONT STOP ENJOYING TKOL . on my fan side i feel blessed , i listen to what i ve been desiring for 4 years [ witnesses can tell haha ] – its my dream and fuck it i am not ashame to say it . all the other beautiful songs are alive guys [ daily mail – present tense etc etc etc ] they will show up sooner or later , even if it takes years , they wont let those beautiful pieces fade away , just be patience , we have more than we can ask for , we re like spoiled little kids . and if you don t like the direction they had taken, just let it go , i assure you, you just need to listen to other band and that s it . this is what they are into it right now , all 7 of them . welcome .

  • After all this enigma surrounding this release it would be a bit of a disappointment if there was not much more to come in the coming weeks or months. If there is more music on the way then the guys are playing their cards perfectly.

  • @lifeistao & @pntrs

    I likey :^{•

  • had a hifi listening session again lastnight of TKOL. i personally think it’s phenominal. absolute quality piece of music. doesn’t feel unfinished to me at all. currentl fav track is separator.
    more music is always welcome though 🙂 feel spoilt already.

  • In contrast to the EU/US version, the Japanese version of TKOL (to be released tomorrow) will contain a 12-page (bilingual) lyric booklet. I presume some of those 36 pages will contain lyrics as well then (similar to those 2 pages in TUS)?

  • I don’t say this very often, but I pretty much agreed with NME review:

  • And as always on fansites, I feel the need to point out (so as not to offend anyone) that I DO like the album. Sigh.

    Anyway, I might go and listen to Bloom now. As it’s the best song on the album innit. 😉

  • @ pntrs

    I think we share similar journey. 😉

  • @Mephistophilis

    Thank you!

  • I am still not too sure what to think of The Universal Sigh.

  • at first I wasnt sure but now I think is better some song in some months than a long album in some years.

  • For the last 20 years Radiohead has been tickling me in places I would never thought would be so enjoyable.
    Thank you so much for all the wonderful records.
    The artwork and the creativity is just icing on the cake.

  • @lifeistao [ i wish we could talk to each other and share some concepts about our journeys , and specially your ” life is tao ” nickname here and why you feel it like that ] , but you know , its internet days , it would even be unsafe , but i would love to ] .

  • @pntrs

    Darn, you decoded my nickname? I thought no one would ever guessed it. 😀

    But yeah, I think you are very true to your feeling toward Rh, and how you enjoyed so much of TKOL, and it is this kind of mind journey I also have experienced for Rh. I listened to it so many times since its release, would’ve listened to it even more often if it doesn’t pain me so much at times.

    The more I read about & listen to TKOL, and the whole project, the more I sense their attitude are getting closer to Taoism, which essential spirit is going with the flow without being too forceful, feisty & controlling, be it with nature or ourselves, approaching more inner peace, which I personally find it takes lots of hardship to reach such. I guess that’s why the theme is “Universal Sigh…”, surrender to what we can give or get given.

    And I whole heartily agree with you about Internet. 🙂

  • I started reading up on Buddhism, myself and I can definitely sense some of those qualities in their music.

  • @lifeistao & @pntrs
    Verdict on axis mundi?

    Morning Mr.Magpie ;^~

  • @Mephistophilis

    Heehee… don’t encourage me, cause I can go on and on with this subject matter…. too interesting.

    Anyway, I’ve never read Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching, but find Chuang Tsu’s Inner Chapters full of humors, and very little of repression, doctrines and prophecies. I walk away feeling more liberated from reading that book. Then again, different people would take away different things basing on our seek, I guess. Oh, and that book is so full of tree limbs, 😀


  • @________-=” April 5, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    That’s an interesting article.

    Especially the following quotes from that articles sums up a metaphor of meditation, which is to allow our thoughts passing and flow without over analyzing holding onto definitive.

    *** It’s actually kind of chillwave, this muzzy-headed sense of disconnectedness. Towards the end of the album, there’s a feeling of hearing sounds while slipping between sleep and wakefulness – birdsong, snatches of lyrics, instruments fading lazily in and out. It’s telling that the album ends with Yorke singing “wake me up” over and over again. This is, in the end, a sleepy-sounding record. ***

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