Irradio: Better in your head than out
Is there humor to be found in lamentation? Irradio hopes so. The irony is dark and the sarcasm dry, and that's the mortar between the bricks in this band. Irradio's music, which they call dark pop/(sm)art rock, explores themes of control, escape, chase, and deliverance. At the fore are (singer/songwriter) T.K. Atom's lyrics. Whether minimalist or narrative, they search for deliverance where compliance is the rule:
As I make may way through the misty morning air
the captain's still in his bed, won't know that I'm gone yet
I tried my hand as a military man
obeyed commands, carried out the master plan
but I couldn't eat the cyanide, I must be weak
I got things on my mind that I can't leave
(The Great Plain)
During his years in art school, Atom applied one fundamental principle towards his concept driven art: Let the message dictate the media. To apply this to music, Atom joined with (keyboardist) SohYoon Oh who had spent most of her life studying classical piano and jazz theory. After several years in the Chicago music scene of developing a sound dictated by themes, the two founded Irradio.
Joined by Spiro Bolos (guitarist), Rusty Ehler (bassist), and Jeremy McLean (drummer), Irradio have taken inspiration from alternative rock innovators such as Wilco, Radiohead, and R.E.M. who are unafraid to venture and are unlimited by genre classifications. The songs of Doctors Work, Irradio's new cd, carve out the loose plot of an escapee on the run, flipping through the back pages of a seemingly ordered, but empty, life. The album's themes rise up through the storyline's eclectic musical landscape.
Whirling keyboards offset an ominous party with "martyrs, spies, and traitors" in a song like Masquerade while In This Room relives the memory of bliss with vocals and chiming guitars that are both delicate and full. As echoed in the album title and Atom's cover photograph of Berlin's construction cranes, every song released by Irradio is guaranteed to have undergone intense doctoring and arrangement.
Irradio's music is a culmination of despair, loss, and ultimately, hope. It raises vital questions and invites listeners' own responses. Art may start out as a concept, but at some point, it becomes alive itself. Similarly, Irradio's music first strikes the head, but it's contagious and more than likely will spread to the rest of the body.