Rhythm & Views

Jonny Greenwood

Even if I hadn't caught a film critics' screening of P.T. Anderson's There Will Be Blood, an epic adaptation of muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair's Oil!, I'd tell you that Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood's score is darkly majestic--and I'd say it as someone who believes Radiohead to be largely overhyped.

Actually, "score" isn't the most precise word, since Greenwood has actually smartly expanded upon the best ideas in his BBC-commissioned piece "Popcorn Superhet Receiver." No matter: The music is supremely haunting regardless of its evolution, showing off Greenwood's classical training and deepening the spiritual corrosion of the film's protagonist, an oil baron named Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day-Lewis).

Somewhere between the frothy chromaticism of Bartók and the lush ambience of Sorcerer-era Tangerine Dream lies the rich brew that is Greenwood's compositional attack, performed on traditional, rather than electric or electronic, instruments, courtesy of the BBC Concert Orchestra and a handful of soloists. Indeed, Greenwood's music brings to mind Sorcerer for another reason: It's another great film about man's synonymous lust for oil and violence, and it's a score that, despite being electronic by comparison, roots its way into your brain permanently.

From twisted cacophony to searing yet melodic string-quartet runs, the music of There Will Be Blood seeps ghostly magic into every frame of this picture. California will never look--or sound--the same again.

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