ACL Music Fest Saturday Interviews
The silver lining to 'Nine Types of Light'
TV on the Radio7pm, Google+ stage
As fiercely political as Gil Scott-Heron and with the progressive futurism of Prince, TV on the Radio might be the most culturally significant indie rock act of the past decade. What's often overlooked in the band's grimy, postmodern R&B is the silver lining of humor, a point reiterated by frontman Tunde Adebimpe when asked via email for a response to the online tirades that accompanied a recent Heineken-sponsored pop-up concert.
"I was unaware of the comment war, but my heart goes out to everyone affected," the singer wrote. "That we had any part in initiating it saddens me deeply, and I have alerted the Comment President who is mobilizing a crochet, sudoku, and macaroni art force to find these commenters a more productive way to fill what seems like tons of time.
"Especially this 'Anonymous.' He has got a true problem."
TV on the Radio's fourth full-length, Nine Types of Light (Interscope), pulls back those curtains. The album's a work of complicated beauty, bruised and war-torn, but boasting some of Adebimpe's and guitarist Kyp Malone's most sincere ballads. Adebimpe cites The Bunny Lee Rocksteady Years, Timmy Thomas' lone 1973 stunner "Why Can't We Live Together," Saharan guitar tribe Tinariwen, and John Lennon's lost weekend (Walls and Bridges) as prime influences for the transition, which stands in contrast to the dire solidity of 2006 breakthrough Return to Cookie Mountain.
"It is dense and heavy. It's thick in there," reflects Adebimpe. "Whenever we do something new, we try to avoid going somewhere we've been before, sonically anyway. Every record has its own texture and landscape, and I think we try not to double back too much. I recommend putting all the albums, EPs, and singles on a playlist and hitting shuffle. That's like six hours of something you'll never ever, ever want to do again."