Radiohead has released a mobile game that explores its music in a hypnotic alien sandbox-style setting, based on recording sessions from its most recent album.
Rock band Radiohead has expanded beyond its audio walls and created a visual experience based on its music. Created in collaboration with digital agency Universal Everything, with art by Stanley Donwood, PolyFauna — free for iOS and Android — is a sort of game based on recording sessions for 2011's King of Limbs — in particular, the first track, "Bloom".
If you could call it a game, though, we'd have to put it solidly in the "experimental" camp. It's based on a lunar calendar, so every day of the month presents a different experience, with different elements constantly changing: weather, colour palette, moon phase, the types of creatures that occupy the landscape and music.
The music itself is quite strange and hypnotic. The band exchanged audio stems from "Bloom", each remixing each other's, resulting in dozens of different audio stems. The soundtrack for each environment in PolyFauna consists of four of these stems, which means that no two environments sound exactly alike.
It also has no particular goal. Instead, the idea is simply to explore both sights and sounds. For this, it makes use of the phone's accelerometer, which becomes a sort of window into PolyFauna's world. To look around, you need to physically move the phone in space. The point of view is continually moving forward, so you don't have to worry about walking; just seeing. The loops and lines you draw on the screen become fabulous floating creatures inhabiting that particular environment.
If you need a goal, though, you can chase a red dot that hangs in space. When you reach it, it explodes the world around you, giving birth to a new world, so that you can spend as long or as little in each world as you like.
The result is something polished and wonderful and strange — a fascinating new way to experience Radiohead's sound.