Jonny Greenwood Bodysong

[Parlophone/EMI; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: avant garde, film score, free jazz
Others: Philip Glass, John Cage, Michael Nyman, Radiohead

Surprise surprise! Kid A and Amnesiac were mainly Jonny Greenwood’s albums. Getting what and how much of a role Jonny plays in Radiohead (which is probably the primary reason anyone is listening to this album) out of the way, allow me to address Bodysong itself. Being that it’s a soundtrack, at times it doesn’t play as well as one might hope, but that’s hardly a reasonable gripe. Made for a movie described as a “dialogue free… collage of the experience of being human ... compiled from sourced images spanning the past 100 years,” which brings immediately to mind the Philip Glass scored Koyaanisqatsi. Greenwood certainly follows Mr. Glass’ lead on a good deal of the songs. The opener, “Moon Trills” sounds like “Pyramid Song” crossed exactly with something off of the Glass piece. But more interestingly, at times it sounds nothing like a soundtrack. Free jazz dominates “Splitter” and “Milky Drops from Heaven,” not exactly the easiest music to put out of mind. Indeed, they’re exquisitely well executed studies in melding jazz and electronics, just not what you’d expect. “Convergence” meanwhile is a raucous amalgam of percussion, which admittedly could complement high-paced visuals well.

Impressively, the tracks range from nebulous to incredibly dense and intricate. In some places, the craft is actually superior to that found on the Radiohead LPs, but, as one might expect given the circumstances, the songs aren’t nearly as compelling. Greenwood has hidden tiny homunculi of sound that are revealed only upon close scrutiny. He demonstrates incredible ability here, and if the restraints of scoring a movie and being a member of The Rock Band were removed, it would be interesting to see just what he can accomplish. Nonetheless, Bodysong is well worth a listen for any fan of post-OK Computer Radiohead or modern/experimental composition.

1. Moon Trills
2. Moon Mall
3. Trench
4. Iron Swallow
5. Clockwork Tin Soldiers
6. Convergence
7. Nudnik Headache
8. Peartree
9. Splitter
10. Bode Radio / Glass Light / Broken Hearts
11. 24 Hour Charleston
12. Milky Drops From Heaven
13. Tehellet

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