Jonny Greenwood and Paul Thomas Anderson have created a partnership that works – it would seem. Greenwood’s score for There Will Be Blood was a beaut, lingering long after the final frames, one of – in the scheme of things – a small handful of film soundtracks that can exist out there in the world on its own away from the images that inspired it.
Greenwood’s skills weren’t in doubt, he’d composed for film before hooking up with PT Anderson and he has certainly brought a lot – mood-wise, texture-wise – to Radiohead’s sound; his day-job.
Well the day-job might be switching, Radiohead isn’t so much a part-time thing as the gaps between intense work periods are growing – allowing all of the members to explore other avenues. Greenwood’s new score for a Paul Thomas Anderson film, The Master, suggests he’s already made it to the level of accomplished soundtrack composer; not only “one to watch” but one we now know will deliver.
In and around his 11 pieces of score are a few songs from the era for context – my favourite being Ella Fitzgerald’s Get Thee Behind Me Satan.
The vocal cuts provide some of the lightness, something a bit softer; Greenwood’s score is by no means relentless but it has an intensity to it – every track deliberate, focussed, often piercing and probing as a mood is established. Radiohead fans will of course be able to hear shades and textures that marry up with Jonny’s band work but there’s no reason at all why non-fans would want to run from this. No need to boycott because of something resembling a principle.
Greenwood’s probably picked the best sideline career to have given he’s in Radiohead. This is a way to establish himself and move away from obvious comparisons; it’s also work he can complete while staying on in the band – never needing to tour behind a soundtrack, working independently, no other egos to clash and pull him away from the band.
But, beyond any of that, he should stick with this because he’s very good at it.
I’ve yet to see the film but I’m hooked on the music from it. That almost never happens. Soundtrack appreciation usually comes with context, with knowing how the music plays out in the film and how the film plays out around the music. But I’m sold on this score already, I’ve loved playing it – over and over. I’ll see the movie in fact because of this music.