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on4word – In Rainbow Roads Review

Warm blankets of nostalgia are the ultimate improvement to good albums. In Rainbow Roads takes that Radiohead classic and throws it toward Super Mario 64, the perceived titan of video games. Benchmark qualities from both artists in each of their fields are pulled together by on4word. What should be a novelty is in fact a genuine and engaging full-length experience. Who would have thought one of the most upbeat and interesting albums of the year would be In Rainbows fed through the levels of a classic Nintendo 64 platform? What a crime it is that this has yet to be added to Apple Music for all our streaming pleasure.  

Amazingly close to being better than the Radiohead classic, In Rainbow Roads has all the throwback feelings of Mario Paint music-making. Hearing the changes made through midi intentions on classic tracks or wrestling theme tunes is a core memory for many. Either that or not enough people sat and watched early Vinesauce. Either way, In Rainbow Roads is a throwback to that but has an elevated status as it pulls from the sounds and implementations of the Nintendo classic. Opening track 15 Step is a remarkable beginning that uses character interjections and voice clips sparingly. Crucially though, the dreamy ambivalence toward this project is removed the longer it goes, the confidence eroding the potential for novelty. In Rainbow Roads is a tightly wound album that riffs off Radiohead with sincerity and incredibly fun results. 

Piecing In Rainbow Roads together with sound effects and pieces from Super Mario 64 is one step, but to make it sound and feel as fun as the works it riffs off of is another step entirely. Faust Arp and Jigsaw Falling Into Place are powerhouses for this on4word experience, and they do well to weather a storm of Radiohead fans and their demand for perfection. Regardless of whether it improves or misaligns the track, it is a startlingly good entry point into listening to soundtracks. Strange, since In Rainbow Roads is not a soundtrack at all. An unlicensed, bootleg that fishes out the potential for new meaning and impressive, creative moments. A line is blurred, a new genre brought to life by the steady beats of Nude and the faithful aquatics of Weird Fishes / Arpeggi.  

Hilarious it may be to think that the work here would have provided one of the timeless video game scores had it shipped with the original, In Rainbow Roads is fascinating with or without the context of its release. Whether Radiohead is going to switch out Jonny Greenwood for a Bob-omb Battlefields re-dub is yet to be seen. An extremely fun listen while riding backwards on a train to the capital city. Even more fun to consider In Rainbow Roads can stand alongside In Rainbows as an album of great and similar qualities. That is through the strong mixing from the former and reliance of it in the latter, and through on4word and their dependable change of tact when removing lyrics to focus on the mix. What is left behind is great fun, well-worked pieces that strike with a touching replication of a very good album. 

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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