Radiohead : A Moon Shaped Pool

With their ninth studio album, Radiohead move beyond the existential angst that made them music’s preeminent doomsayers, pursuing a more personal—and eternal—form of enlightenment.

Amoeba Music

Radiohead, who titled their ninth studio album A Moon Shaped Pool, have a unique grasp on how easily profundity can slip into banality. Their music is obsessed with the point where great truths harden into platitudes, where pure signal meets wretched noise. In the past, Thom Yorke has sharply peppered his lyrics with everyday cliches to suggest a mind consumed by meaningless data, but on the new album, he largely moves beyond cynicism. He is now considering simpler truths in a heretofore-unexplored register: wonder and amazement. “This goes beyond me, beyond you,” he sings on “Daydreaming.” “We are just happy to serve you.” There is no concealed razor under Yorke’s tongue as he offers this thought, or in the pearly music that surrounds him. It sounds for all the world like the most cloistered and isolated soul in modern rock music opening up and admitting a helplessness far more personal than he’s ever dared. Yorke has flirted with surrender before, and on A Moon Shaped Pool, that submission feels nearly complete.

The album is framed by two older pieces of music that act as gateways to the darker, unfamiliar waters within. Opener “Burn the Witch” has been floating around, in some form or another, since Kid A. “This is a low-flying panic attack,” Yorke announces, explicitly linking to the bad old days of air crashes, iron lungs, and wolves at doors. (In fact, several of the song’s lyrics—“avoid all eye contact,” “cheer at the gallows”—first appeared in the album art to 2003’s anti-Bush polemic Hail to the Thief.) Meanwhile, Jonny Greenwood’s brittle modernist string arrangement reinforces the angst, turning the orchestra into a giant pair of gnashing teeth. It’s a vintage splash of Radiohead stomach acid, a cloud of gnats unleashed in your cranial nerves.

It also feels like an exorcism for what follows: a plunge into something scarier than the military industrial complex, or the insidious nature of propaganda, or human nature’s disturbing tendency towards unquestioning obedience. Yorke separated from his partner of 23 years and the mother to his two children last August, and on “Identikit,” he sings “Broken hearts make it rain” and “When I see you messin’ me around, I don’t want to know.”

That isn’t to say that this is necessarily a “break-up album.” Separations (particularly those involving children) take place in the harsh light of day, with lawyers’ appointments and checklists and logistical arrangements. Radiohead albums are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, and the band retains a healthy resistance to clarity; their music is a maze of signs you can peer into any way you like. Even so, the impact of trauma, a sort of car crash of the soul, is palpable. The music here feels loose and unknotted, broken open in the way you can only be after a tragedy. “There’s a spacecraft blocking out the sky,” Yorke observes on “Decks Dark,” as choral voices pass overhead. The scene is straight from 1997’s “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” but here Yorke doesn’t sound “uptight.” He sounds utterly drained, as if impending invasion doesn’t concern him at all.

A song title like “Glass Eyes” hints at many of the band’s longstanding morbid preoccupations—the semblance of humanity in something cold and dead, or the violation of the biological body by foreign objects—but the song is a bloodflow of strings straight into the heart. “Hey it’s me, I just got off the train,” Yorke sings, and it’s a strikingly ordinary image: the Paranoid Android himself, picking up the phone and calling someone to tell them he’s just arrived. “I feel this love turn cold,” he confesses as the ballad draws to a close, the phrasing an echo, subconscious or not, of his Kid Asign-off “I’ll see you in the next life.” A throbbing cello appears like a lump in the throat; the song fades away.

Throughout the album, Yorke’s everyday enlightenment is backed by music of expanse and abandon. The guitars sound like pianos, the pianos sound like guitars, and the mixes breathe with pastoral calm. “The Numbers,” a song about the impending apocalypse brought on by climate change, meanders along, its groove as wide as an ocean. Even the malevolent synth wave that passes through “Ful Stop” sounds like a visitor, a momentary darkness rather than a caged spirit. As the song builds, the band works up a coursing groove that will feel familiar to longtime fans, with its interlocking guitars and an arterial bustle of rhythms serving to launch Yorke’s wordless moan. It’s a sound that Radiohead has spent the last decade honing, but the payoff here is deeper and more gratifying than it has been in a while.

The added dimension comes from Yorke, who pumps fresh oxygen into these songs, many of which have existed in sketch-like forms for years. On the lonely folk hymn “Desert Island Disk,” he sings of an epiphanic experience: “The wind rushing ‘round my open heart/An open ravine/In my spirit white.” As a vision of transformation, it feels like the inverse to Amnesiac’s “Pyramid Song,” where his only companions were the dead; here, he is “totally alive.”

And then there’s “True Love Waits.” It’s an old song, one that has been around in various forms for over two decades, but unlike “Burn the Witch” or the other teased sketches and scraps that Radiohead diehards pick apart on forums, it’s long been a part of their canon. It appeared on the 2001 live album I Might Be Wrong and, dragged into 2016, feels like a relic from a different geological era. “I’ll drown my beliefs,” Yorke sings, “just don’t leave.” It is the message they leave us with, this very open-hearted song that has always felt like an open wound in their discography, a geyser of feeling erupting out of scorched earth. Its very inclusion is a striking moment of transparency.

The version here is just Yorke and a piano, so reverberant and echo-drenched that it feels like we’ve stuck our heads inside it. Yorke croons tenderly, never opening up into his chest voice. It’s sung to one person this time, not crowds. In its mundane visions of “lollipops and crisps,” the lyrics purposefully skirt doggerel, an acknowledgment that cliches can be, in fact, where all the action is. “I’m not living/I’m just killing time,” the 47-year-old admits. You can write a line like that and set it to music; you can perform it for years in front of adoring millions; you can carry the idea around in your heart and mind. But it might take a lifetime for it to strike, as it does here, with a newfound power. The truth, as always, lies in plain sight, right there in the kicking and the squealing, the panic and the vomit. Some truths just take longer to see than others.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Released, This Is What’s New

ubuntu 16.04 lts desktop screenshot

It’s finally here: the stable Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release is now available to download.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (‘Xenial Xerus’) is supported for 5 years with critical security, bug and app updates from Canonical, the company that makes Ubuntu.

And as a ‘Long Term Support’ release this version of Ubuntu become the new recommended install, the one that new users should use.

Before you scroll down to see what’s new & improved you may want to start your download now, so let’s take care of that…

Download Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

To get your download faster, and help others get theirs quicker too, use the official Ubuntu Torrents:

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS 64-bit Torrent Ubuntu 16.04 LTS 32-bit Torrent

Remember: you do not have to do a fresh install to get the latest version. You can upgrade to Ubuntu 16.04 from Ubuntu 15.10 and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS using the Update Manager app.

Ubuntu 16.04 — New Features

Linux Kernel 4.4

TuxlogoUbuntu 16.04 LTS ships with a modified version of Linux 4.4 kernel.

It introduces numerable improvements to system stability, performance, power efficiency, and file system handling, and introduces support for newer Intel and AMD hardware.

  • Improved Intel Skylake processor support
  • 3D support in the virtual GPU driver
  • New driver for Corsair Vengeance K90
  • Support for TPM 2.0 chips
  • Journaled RAID 5 support

It also introduces drivers for the Logitech G29 racing wheel and enables support for hardware features on some newer Toshiba laptops.

ZFS

A bigger (and somewhat controversial) change is the addition of support for the Zfs filesystem on Linux — the first version of Ubuntu to support it natively, out of the box.

ZFS is best described as a combination of a volume manager (like LVM) and a filesystem (like ext4, which remains the default for Ubuntu installations).

Ubuntu has produced a reference guide to help those interested in filesystems take advantage of ZFS on Xenial.

Other System Changes

Python 3.5 is default in 16.04. Apps that are based on and/or use Python 2 remain available and will continue work as normal. Developers are advised to upgrade their software to take advantage of Python 3.

As we’ve previously warned, if you use a device with AMD Radeon graphics hardware you should NOT upgrade at present. The fglrx driver is now deprecated in 16.04, and although open source alternatives (radeon and amdgpu) are recommended, they do not deliver comparable performance.

Snappy

apps on ubuntu

Snappy is Ubuntu’s brand new packaging format. It aims to help app developers bring newer versions of their apps to the Ubuntu desktop, instantly, reliably and safely.

We took a look at the key benefits of Snap packages in an earlier post, which is well worth a read for a full rundown.

But the short of it is this: you will get to install new versions of your favourite apps in Ubuntu sooner than before, and without having to worry about missing or out of date dependencies.

New Keyboard Shortcuts

The default shortcut for opening the HUD (the ‘heads-up display’ that lets you quickly search for options in the menu of focus applications) changes from ALT to ALT+SPACE in this release.

The window control keybinding changes from  alt-super.

Unity 7.4

2016-04-06 20_25_32

Unity is Ubuntu’s default desktop shell. A host of bug fixesfor some long-standing issues feature in its latest outing.

Yes, as you may have heard by now, Ubuntu 16.04 finally lets you move the Unity launcher to the bottom of the screen — six long years after users first asked.

The ‘option’ to change the position is not exposed via the native system settings app, instead lurking in the nerdy nether regions of the dconf-editor. Third-party utilities like Unity Tweak Tool (available from Ubuntu Software) offer an easier, one-click toggle, however.

Ubuntu’s controversial online search features are now disabled by default for new installs.

A victory for the privacy conscious,you’ll no longer need to sift through  tangentially related eBay, Wikipedia and web results when hunting down a local file or app.

Session shortcuts have been added to the Dash to make it even faster to reboot, logout or shutdown your PC.

unity session shortcuts

Other changes in Unity 7.4:

  • Removable devices now have launcher shortcuts
  • ‘Format’ option added to device quicklist
  • Improved appearance of apps that use CSD
  • New app spread shortcut: Super + Ctrl + W
  • Window management fix for Trash
  • New HUD shortcut: Alt + Space (previously just ‘Alt’)
  • Option to ‘Always Show Menus’ in System Settings
  • Dash: new overlay scrollbars
  • Improved HiDPI support
  • Apps now show launcher icons while loading

LTS to LTS Changes

Easily create desktop shortcuts

Changes since Unity 7.2 (used in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS)

Since a good chunk of you will be doing an upgrade from Ubuntu 14.04 LTS we’ll mention some other notable tweaks to the desktop shell since the version you’re used to was released.

Among them:

  • App menus can be made to ‘Always Show’
  • Faster login & logout animations
  • New overlay scrollbars (no more thumb scrubber)
  • Drag and drop apps from the Dash to the desktop to create shortcuts
  • Computer can no longer be ‘shutdown’ when the screen is locked
  • Dash: Keyboard navigation improvements
  • New setting to control the show-now delay (when pressing Alt key)

The Sound Menu will show a microphone input volume slider on devices with a built-in (or connected) microphone. In earlier versions the input slider was only shown when the microphone was actively in use by an application.

sound menu microphone input

New Default Wallpaper

ubuntu 16.04 wallpaper

The new default desktop background

Almost every new version of Ubuntu comes with a new desktop background and a selection of new community-contributed wallpapers.

The default desktop background is a palatable mish-mash of purple, though far removed from the heady days of the Hardy Heron! Whether you keep it or change it, the new default desktop wallpaper will at least make it easier to spot Ubuntu in the wild! 

Application Updates

software center new to ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Several new apps ship as part of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, including a new desktop calendar app and a brand-new software store (pictured above).

Both are welcome additions to the desktop, with Calendar able to show your upcoming appointments and reminders in the Datetime Indicator.

The new Software app replaces the Ubuntu Software Center.  Use it to search for, browse and install from hundreds of thousands of free and open-source application, as well as a few non-open-source and paid apps, too.

It’s not perfect — it doesn’t always mark installed apps correctly, it leaves behind dependencies on uninstalls — but these bugs will be fixed in subsequent updates.

The Cheese webcam booth lets you — surprise — take screen-lit selfies using your webcam.

The latest releases of Mozilla’s Firefox web-browser and Thunderbird e-mail client are (naturally) also included, as are new versions of other key apps like LibreOffice, Evince and the Eye of GNOME image viewer.

software calendar and usb creator

Software, Calendar and USB Startup Creator

Two apps you will no longer find on new installs are the disc-burning utility Brasero and the instant-messaging client Empathy.

Both have been removed from the ISO image.

If you’re upgrading from an earlier release note that these apps won’t be uninstalled.

A Most Xenodochial Release

‘94% of readers say they plan to upgrade — it’s a must-have release’

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is a must-have upgrade.

And that’s not just my opinion — over 18,000 of you have so far voted in our intentions poll and 94% of you plan to upgrade.

Unity 7 once again removes ammunition for its critics to fire.

Xenial is an agreeable release. It’s a desktop operating system that’s as well suited for end users as it is developers as it is mainframes like the IBM LinuxOne.

Many often think of “convergence” as being solely a smartphone that becomes a PC. But from smartphones to supercomputers, Ubuntu is already converged.

With a support period of five years, the lure of new apps through the promising Snappy package system, and the very best hardware support, the case for not upgrading is pretty thin.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS in a nutshell:

  • Improved Unity desktop
  • Online searches disabled in Dash
  • Linux Kernel 4.4
  • New Software store
  • Updated apps, inc. LibreOffice 5.1
  • New desktop calendar app
  • Support for ZFS
  • Python 3.5

Ubuntu 16.04 Download

Chances are you want a copy, so hit the button below to grab your Ubuntu 16.04 download.

Looking for Ubuntu 16.04 downloads? .ISO images are available to download direct from Canonical through your browser:

Download Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus

If you want to get download faster — and help others do the same — use the official torrents:

Ubuntu 16.04 Desktop (64bit) Torrent Ubuntu 16.04 Desktop (32bit) Torrent

Upgrade from Ubuntu 14.04 or 15.10

upgrading ubuntu trusty to xenial

To upgrade Ubuntu 15.10 to Ubuntu 16.04 you’ll need to be patient; you’ll get a notification prompt asking if you want to upgrade at some point in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS users will be notified of the upgrade in the summer, with the release of Ubuntu 16.04.1. DOn’t want to wait? We’ve got you covered.

Cinnamon 3.0 released

On behalf of the team and all the developers who contributed to this build, I am proud to announce the release of Cinnamon 3.0!

Here’s a quick overview of some of the changes in this new version:

  • Window management improvements on tiling, mapping and unmapping windows, compositor’s window groups and tracking of full screen windows
  • Improved out of the box touchpad support (edge-scrolling and two-finger-scrolling can now be configured independently and are both enabled by default)
  • New accessibility and sound settings (both rewritten as native cinnamon-settings modules)
  • Battery powered devices can be renamed
  • Different favorite applications can now be set for plain-text, documents and source code files
  • Panel launchers now include application actions
  • Animation effects are now enabled by default on dialogs and menus
  • Favorites and system options can now be disabled in the menu applet
  • The photo-frame desklet now also scans subdirectories
  • Improved support for GTK 3.20, Spotify 0.27, Viber

We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.