Legend recreates entire Radiohead album with Mario 64 sounds, even Jonny Greenwood likes it

A mockup N64 cartridge of a Radiohead album.
(Image credit: On4Word)

Radiohead is one of the great bands of our era and, depending on who you ask, In Rainbows is amongst its finest work. The album is especially memorable for appearing out of nowhere after the band had taken a hiatus of several years, and its innovative distribution: This was released as a pay-what-you-want download and, yes, you could give one of the world's biggest bands $0 for their latest record if you wished.

Now the creator and composer On4Word has released a project called In Rainbow Roads (YouTube). It quite incredibly recreates the entire 43-minute album with the Super Mario 64 soundfont (a soundfont is essentially all the files used to create a given soundtrack), and I can only speculate at the amount of time that's gone into this. The creator merely says it is "dedicated to all toadstool beings", a riff on the lyrics from one of the album's best tracks, Reckoner: "dedicated to all hu… all human beings".

In fact it's so good it's received the ultimate badge of approval: Radiohead composer and guitarist Jonny Greenwood made a Mario joke and linked to it.

This is far from Radiohead's first brush with gaming: One of the band's most recent projects was an Epic Games exclusive called Kid A Mnesiac, a weird mix of exhibition and what Thom Yorke called "mutant re-engineering" of earlier work. On4Word has also done other individual Radiohead songs (including No Surprises and Paranoid Android), as well as some excellent versions of Aphex Twin tracks.

If you've heard In Rainbows you've got to give this a listen, because it is kind of bonkers how well these two disparate soundscapes mesh-together. The care and attention given to the smallest detail in the songs, and finding some sort of Mushroom Kingdom equivalent, is extraordinary. And it all results in something that, while on the face of it absurd, can be almost eerily beautiful.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."