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Free Radiohead app transports you to eerie virtual worlds

What's Radiohead's new free app all about, then? It's called PolyFauna and Thom Yorke describes it as "is an experimental collaboration between us (Radiohead) & Universal Everything, born out of The King of Limbs sessions and using the imagery and the sounds from the song Bloom." Inspired by everything from the atmospheric landscape paintings of JW Turner and Peter Doig, to the computational life forms of Karl Sims, it's available right now, both for iOS and Android. So what can you expect from it?

Fire PolyFauna up and it drops you into an eerie landscape, populated by strange flora and fauna. You can navigate either by turning your device - which quickly gets old, we've found after a few minutes spent standing up and turning round and round with an iPad held in front of us - or by holding one finger on the screen and swiping with another, and you can draw on the screen to create weird alien forms.

On your wanderings you'll occasionally glimpse a red dot floating around; if you follow it, it'll eventually fly into you and transport you to a whole new world in new colours, populated with new forms and echoing with new sounds. It's an evolutionary journey of discovery, inspired, says Yorke, by "an interest in early computer life-experiments and the imagined creatures of our subconscious".

It's an intriguing piece of experimental design; you'll either find yourself exploring its unlikely landscapes for ages, or you'll dismiss it as a load of ambient navel-gazing and delete it straight away. We're rather enjoying it; it's in a similar vein to videogames like Rez and Proteus, with the organic landscapes of the former and the chilled freeform exploration of the latter. If that sounds up your street, be sure to check it out.

Key info

  • Works with: iOS, Android
  • Price: Free
  • Developer: Universal Everything
  • Version: 1.0.3
  • App size: 88.9MB
  • Age rating: 4+

Words: Jim McCauley

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