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Jonny Greenwood There Will Be Blood Review

Soundtrack. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

One half of the brothers Greenwood turns his able hand to more great soundtrack work...

Tim Nelson 2007

Hot on the heels of In Rainbows comes Radiohead's multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood's entirely unrelated project. It's a soundtrack for the latest Paul Thomas Anderson/Daniel Day-Lewis movie, There Will Be Blood, based on Upton Sinclair's radical 1927 novel, OIL! The early release of this album, predating the film by almost two months, provides an opportunity for excited speculation as to what the film will be like and whether Anderson is still capable of the form he showed prior to Punch Drunk Love. But the soundtrack is not quite the work in its own right that Aimee Mann's Magnolia was.

It is, however, a development of Greenwood's work as an orchestral composer, following on from his previous work on Bodysong and Popcorn Superhet Receiver (from which this score was developed), and like the latter work, largely undertaken with the Robert Zeigler-led BBC Concert Orchestra, although the tracks on this album recorded with the Emperor Quartet provide some of the piece's more affecting moments.

While some found Greenwood's work on Bodysong moving, others thought the work a little thin and underdeveloped. Much the same can be said of this, although the score ably conjures up the sense of protagonists caught in the grip of powerful economic and social forces, which might be most accurately characterized as greed and doom. It also suggests a film where the landscape itself is a major actor, and quite possibly a malevolent one. The best tracks here summon up the spirit of Penderecki, with "Henry Plainview" a very close relative of his "Threnody To The Victims of Hiroshima". Plangent as There Will Be Blood is, you might be better of going to Penderecki's source, or waiting for PTA’s movie.

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