Was the new Radiohead song leaked by the band?

Fans investigating the mysterious online appearance of These Are My Twisted Words are speculating that it may have been leaked by Thom Yorke himself

While the rest of the world spent yesterday lounging in the sun, the music fans went online to hunt for the secret behind Radiohead's new song. As previously reported, a track called These Are My Twisted Words appeared online around midday on Wednesday. Now, internet sleuths are following the breadcrumb trail – imagining the leak could lead to Thom Yorke himself.

Here is what is known: These Are My Twisted Words first appeared via the filesharing website What.cd.

The file was called "01 radiohead these are my twisted words (advance) 2009 woi.mp3". It was the first post from a user called "crza", offering an MP3 and "info" file, typical of pirated music leaks. crza has been a member of What.cd for just under a year and a half. His previously downloads include Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, Eddie Kendricks's People ... Hold On, and plug-ins for the post-production software Shake. crza changed his privacy settings shortly before uploading the song, making it hard to learn more about him.

The "info" file is just text, formatted to contain a picture. You can view it here. Like most info files, crza's version includes technical information on the song – its length, file size and quality. Unlike most info files, it also includes an inscrutable poem.

The poem reads as follows:

i just wanted to reassure readers

that following representations

seeking confirmation

that before your very eyes

behind the wall of ice

that the box is not under threat

however they are set to remove

other boxes

in fact i have the list in front of me

i went to a briefing on their plans

and challenged them to tell me

exactly what the cost would be

they spoke in broad terms

The info file – and the song's original filename – have references to a mysterious "Wall of Ice" or "WOI". Though this could be the name of a release group that stole and leaked the track, no group with that name seems to have acted before. Some Radiohead fans have suggested that Wall of Ice is the name of a forthcoming Radiohead EP – possibly due on 17 August, the "release date" listed in the info file. They point to Thom Yorke's recent interview with The Believer magazine, where besides criticising CDs and proposing that Radiohead forego the album format, Yorke also said that the band had a "good plan" for releasing new singles and EPs. "We've got this great idea for putting things out," he said, "but I can't tell you what it is, because someone will rip it off."

Elsewhere in the February interview Yorke described a model proposed by producer Nigel Godrich: "He says, like, OK, we book in for three days, and at the end of the three days we put two tracks up every week and we do it for six weeks. I mean, it'll never happen, but that idea of, we put it out even if we don't know what it is and then, oh dear, it's out."

Could These Are My Twisted Words be the first of these songs? Might Radiohead be pretending to be a release group, deliberately leaking their own music to torrent sites?

A few things make it unlikely. First of all, there are all these silly aliases: crza, sca[GG]er (listed as the "ripper" in the info file), racy251 (who drew the info-file's ASCII picture). None of these names seem like Radiohead's style. Other aspects of the info file are similarly do not seem like Radiohead. The rippers describe their favourite genres as "doomcore, folktronica, ukf", which wouldn't be true of the band – or even a particularly good joke. Besides, Radiohead have a popular website and a successful digital music store. Why resort to illegal torrent sites like what.cd?

Then again, there is apparently evidence that connects the file data (specifically, the ISRC field) of These Are My Twisted Words with the only "official" recent Radiohead release, Harry Patch (In Memory of). Some fans say they were created on the same computer. And the info file is suitably mysterious when it describes the sort of people Wall of Ice are "looking for". Whereas most release groups would specify things like, "people who work in CD pressing factories", this document says they want "talented puppeteers, worms, disgruntled executives, sacked flies". They might as well be Radiohead lyrics.

Though we will find out soon enough whether a new Radiohead EP is due on 17 August, fans have also proposed one more theory. After all, Yorke was recently said to be writing a track for the next Twilight film, New Moon. Could the film's crew simply have been indiscreet with the song, resulting in its leak?

Radiohead have yet to comment on the song.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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