Radiohead recorded OK Computer with engineer/producer Nigel Godrich manning the band’s “Canned Applause” mobile rig. Sessions started at a converted shed in the country dubbed “Canned Applause,” with no kitchen or bathrooms. The basic tracks for “Electioneering,” “No Surprises,” “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” and “The Tourist” were recorded there. For the rest of the sessions, the band moved to St. Catherine’s Court, a Tudor manor house owned at the time by Jane Seymour. Strings were recorded at Abbey Road in London. Most of the album was tracked live with the band playing and Yorke singing in one room.
Recording and Monitoring:
The “Canned Applause” rig was based around MTA 980 and Soundcraft Spirit 24 consoles. The MTA is a console designed by Malcolm Toft, formerly of Trident Studios, which is similar in many ways to the Trident 80-series desks. Godrich tracked to both digital and analog media, using Otari MTR 90II 2″ and Studer A80 tape machines, and Tascam DA88 and Panasonic SV3800 digital recorders. Most songs employed a combination of tape recording with digital processing, while others were done entirely in the digital realm. Tracks were edited and processed with ProTools and Cubase software, and monitored on Yamaha NS10 and Acoustic Energy AE1 monitors.
The outboard gear on hand included a Neve 33609 and UREI 1176 compressors, a Drawmer DS201 gate, a Pultec PEQ1A equalizer, and Yamaha SPX1000 and Mutronics ‘Mutator’ effects units. The bass and other direct input instruments, Godrich used a Palmer PGA05 speaker simulator. For reverb and delay, there was an EMT140 plate reverb, AMS DMS1580 delay, AMS RMX16 reverb, and of course the many unique spaces within St. Catherine’s Court. You can hear the AMS digital delay malfunctioning to create the sputtering sound at the end of “Karma Police.”
Sampling and Synthesis:
For keys and synths, the band had a Mellotron, various analog synths from Moog, and Emu and Roland sound banks. The band also had an Akai S-3200 sampler and a Movement MCS Percussion Computer drum machine.
For Thom Yorke’s vocals, Godrich switched between a Neumann U47 and a Rode Classic which he ran through an 1176 for compression and Pultec EQP1 for eq. Godrich later commented that he thought the Rode was too bright for Yorke’s voice. Vocals were often recorded in interesting-sounding spaces around the manor house, including a stone staircase for “Exit Music (For a Film),” and a ballroom for “Let Down.”Radiohead OK Computer Recording,