PolyFauna is Radiohead’s creative app experiment

Radiohead is going out of their way to find alternative means for reaching their audience. One experiment, they began last year, suggested they wanted to set up a torrent account with a pay gate to have better control of the flow of commerce between their fans and the band.

Now, here comes this app, PolyFauna, which goes a step beyond the usual flat sort of music video, offering up soundbites from Radiohead‘s King of Limbs recording sessions with 3D visuals by friend and colleague Stanley Donwood (Dan Rickwood).

On first glance, it reminds me of that one Atoms for Peace video, where Thom Yorke’s head is in the sand… Yorke’s got his fingers in all manner of creative exploits throughout the years, so it makes sense.

As you keep watching, or playing with the PolyFauna app, you may find yourself in a slight state of meditation. You can hear the sound effects of objects whirring past, drawing you into the imaginary landscape, and the trippy tracks go with the territory, too. In one session, there were these desolate, empty-calorie sounds pinging and bumping around the timeline, as if the unfinished music was trying to communicate the epiphany that a computer might have. Then you find yourself getting a little more accustomed to that, as you begin to focus on the grey background for the first time during the quick little jaunt, then, BAM! The interface changes. Now, you’re stuck in an echoey chamber with cathedral hymn voices calling you into a more mathematical translation of audiovisual poetry, with 4-count beats setting the pace for pulsing polygons taking shape in the form of a wire frame mountain, smoking with color.

In first-person perspective, you’re at once hurtling toward some far off point in the center of the horizon, until you tilt the device and look to the stars or walk on steadily staring at the ground. This is definitely not what I expected from the app. It’s multi-directional, you steer the controls with the motion of your tablet or phone, utilizing the internal gyro of the device. Akin to playing Gravity Rush or Super Mario Bros Wii.

If you need a moment to dwell on your thoughts, stave them off, or block them out altogether, this app does the trick. I wouldn’t call it a game necessarily, as making contact with the screen doesn’t seem to allude to any consistent effect on all levels, but I was able to practice my cloudbursting skills in one arena, so there’s that.

You should probably go ahead and give it a whirl:

Oh! And it’s free.



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