St Carolyn By The Sea; Suite From There Will Be Blood
Not a collaboration, instead this is a split showcase for the burgeoning composing careers of Bryce Dessner and Jonny Greenwood. You know them both as guitarists/arrangers for super-hyped “cool” bands. Dessner is a calming influence on the music of The National. Greenwood is Thom Yorke’s right hand man in Radiohead. Both musicians have shown themselves to be outside-the-box thinkers (and players) in their respective bands. Both are passionately pursuing work on the side – the Serious Composer work of film-scoring and neo-classical works.
Dessner’s St Carolyn By The Sea is a new work, and his lachrymose strings ring out as searing accompaniment to his own liquid-tone guitar. He’s accompanied by the Copenhagen Philharmonic (as conducted by Andree de Ridder). His guitar work with orchestra is like a less exasperated Mike Oldfield. Where Oldfield is all Asperger’s close-talker with his orchestral guitar work, Dessner is the buoying tonic, his lines work as set-ups rather than pay-offs.
His Carolyn suite is playful – as the dance erupts between percussion and strings. It’s towering and powerful and draws to mind the types of works Michael Nyman has created in miniature for film scenes.
Greenwood’s music from There Will Be Blood was almost a part of Daniel Day Lewis’ characterisation of the wondrous villain, Daniel Plainview. The way the cello line dances, it’s as if it existed as soundtrack only to/for Day Lewis’ eyebrows.
The short suite included here from Blood is in part to fill out the album to CD length, it’s in part to hint at a connection between the two composers, indie-rock guitarists dressing up their ideas outside of their main gigs as something big and bold and powerful; there’s something in the way this music flows though, from the largeness of St Carolyn through to the majestic – always ever-so-slightly sinister hypnosis of the Suite from There Will Be Blood.
It’s a split snapshot of two careers that just might dovetail once again; two players not only flirting with a High Art version of composer given the perceptions of their day-job. It’s two composers actually – really – delivering. It will be interesting to revisit this, as a combined work, when both have further runs on the board.