Review of There Will Be Blood Album by Jonny Greenwood

Jonny Greenwood
There Will Be Blood original soundtrack
Album Review

Jonny Greenwood There Will Be Blood Album

Throughout Radiohead's back catalogue, there are hints of Jonny Greenwood's calibre as a composer and arranger. The string section on 'How to disappear completely' perhaps provides the first clear indication of the scope of Greenwood's vision. They way the strings swing in and out of dissonance before arriving at a harmonic resolution strays well beyond the normal conception of a 'string arrangement', which in pop and rock music is usually confined to a kind of 'carpet' that supports the chord structure.

Out of his Radiohead context, Greenwood has been actively, and extremely successfully, working with string ensembles and the London Sinfonietta. His first release of recorded music was 2003's Bodysong, a soundtrack to a documentary about the human body. A sprawling exploration of strings, electronics, and guitars, Bodysong was sometimes wonderfully engaging and interesting, at others self-consciously experimental.

'There will be blood' is Greenwood's first release of a solo work since then, and his first score of a major commercial film. It is an arrangement which focuses heavily on strings, although other elements are present. This music is as much about the space around the sound as the string tones themselves; in that sense it has much in common with the 'ambient' orchestral works of Gorecki, Part, and Penderecki. The melodies here are haunting and slightly unnerving, giving the disc's title an ominous significance.

Judging from the way Paul Thomas Anderson's previous films (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) have featured music very centrally - it will be interesting to see how this sparse and slightly worrying, though quite brilliant, collection of string pieces functions alongside image.

Matthew Jennings