In one of the weirder Radiohead news stories of the year (topped only by Miley Cyrus telling the band she’d “ruin them”), the Fiery Furnaces’ Matt Friedberger started beef with Yorke and company over what he thought was a “bogus” tribute to experimental music composer Harry Partch. Actually, Radiohead had released a song about the death of Harry Patch, the last British World War I veteran, but this didn’t make Friedberger change his tune. Instead, the Fiery Furnaces released the following statement:
Matt has not heard the Radiohead song about Harry Patch, but if he did, he is sure he wouldn't like it. No doubt Radiohead and their fans can ignore his opinion of this matter and continue with their triumphant artistic interventions. Matt would have much preferred to insult Beck but he is too afraid of Scientologists.
Radiohead didn’t respond to the put down, but Beck sure did. Yesterday, he launched an appropriately avant garde track titled “Harry Partch” on his website. In just over ten minutes, it covers minimalism, pitch-shifting, George Crumb-esque instrumentation, serialism, and pretty much every genre you've ever heard or heard of. It was posted with the following description:
A thruway from the external to the internal, in tribute to California bred composer Harry Partch's concept of 'Corporeality'--- the integration of the body with all art forms. The song uses a 43 tone scale in reference to Partch's innovations with alternate tonalities. A peregrination across disparate territory to ascertain an unassumed frame of reference.
There’s no direct reference to the Partch/Patch controversy on Beck.com, but it sure does seem like the best recording diss ever. Maybe Friedberger will be a little more cautious next time he tries to mess with Nigel Godrich’s cronies.