Jonny Greenwood - Bodysong
Jonny Greenwood - Producer, Writer, Musician
Julian Aravelles - Saxophone, Musician
Julian Arguelles - Saxophone
Fiona Bonds - Viola, Musician
Jeremy Brown - Bass, Musician
Martion Burgess - Violin, Musician
Gene Calderazzo - Drums, Musician
Stanley Donwood - Drawing
The Emperor Quartet
Simon Gibson - Mastering
Colin Greenwood - Bass (Electric), Programming, Musician
Robin Gutch - Executive Producer
Shin Katan - Cover Art
Gerard Presencer - Trumpet, Musician
William Schofield - Cello, Musician
Graeme Stewart - Producer, Engineer
Early in his career, Jonny Greenwood was best known for the loud guitar crunches in Radiohead's first hit single, "Creep". After Radiohead released "The Bends", Greenwood was best known for his excellent guitar work on songs such as "Just". Radiohead released "OK Computer" a couple of years later and Jonny took his guitar playing to new levels with his tones on songs like "Airbag" and "Subterranian Homesick Alien", the latter meant to replicate Miles Davis' trumpet tone on his album, "Bitches Brew". During the period of these three albums, Greenwood was best known for his guitar work, despite having album credits for other instruments such as keyboards, organ and xylophone.
By the time Radiohead released "Kid A", it became known just how skilled a musician Jonny Greenwood was. Jonny played all different sorts of instruments on the album, however, the instruments he played were still not even close to the amount that he had the ability to play. In fact, Jonny is skilled enough to play over 18 instruments capably. At this time, Jonny was also a skilled composer and conductor (he conducted horn sections for Radiohead songs). With all of this knowlege, it was really no surprise at all that Greenwood was the first member of Radiohead to produce a solo album.
While most people now know Jonny as Radiohead's "jack of all trades" when it comes to playing different instruments, it is with "Bodysong" that Greenwood really makes his mark as a composer. That said, Greenwood also showcases his multi instrument abilities on this record. In four tracks, there is a string quartet, in another two there are drums and horns and on another one, Jonny's brother Colin plays bass. Jonny Greenwood plays every
other instrument on the entire album including all of the electronics.
The film itself has some rather graphic footage (CCTV footage of robberies, a woman delivering a baby unassisted) and a lot of the music reflects this. The album opens with "Moon Trills", and as you would guess, it starts with violin trills along with whooshy breathing sounds. Then an eerie piano starts playing, "Pyramid Song" style. While the album has many highlights, it is often hard to choose highlights, as the album appears to be just one big song.
The album has it's fair share of diversity. The aforementioned "Moon Trills" is extremely eeire and it's follower, the electronically tinged "Moon Mall" works just as well. One of the album's highlights is the track "Trench", with a funky/jazzy but dark bassline being the backbone while electronic effects swirl around it. Other diverse tracks include the techno/electronica sounding "Nudnik Headache" and the avant garde/cool jazz piece "Milky Drops From Heaven" that sounds like an extremely dark "Kind Of Blue" era Miles Davis song. There are other jazz pieces that are more avant garde as well (Radiohead have long been jazz fans, parts of "OK Computer were inspired by "Bitches Brew" and they have had various jazz musicians guest on their albums for tracks such as "Life In a Glasshouse"). Some songs go to all out electronica, but there are few guitar tracks, only two songs on the album contain guitars. There is a large similarity to many Radiohead songs on the record as well. The first track uses ideas from "Pyramid Song" while track 8, "Peartree" takes the organs from "Motion Picture Soundtrack" and hammers it into new shapes.
A few tracks on the album just don't seem as clever as Jonny had intended them to be. Some tracks have quite a few different ideas running through them at once and it often seems as though Jonny may not have had time to make them all work with each other or maybe he just didn't think about it enough to develop the ideas properly. The track "Convergence" is a great example of this, while still being an enjoyable track with some excellent percussion work.
For his first effort as a solo artist, Jonny Greenwood has done an incredible job with "Bodysong". One cannont help but feel, however, if he immersed himself even more into what he was doing, the results would be even more remarkable. With that said, there is not much Jonny could have done to better this record. However, it does seem that Jonny's next record will be even more of an improvement on "Bodysong".
- Nearly always interesting and varied
- Album feels like an entire piece of work, rather than a collection of songs
- No song sounds the same. While there are similar tracks that will recall others, every track is an entirely new idea.
- Exactly the right length
- One or two songs drag
- Some ideas don't feel totally developed
- One or two songs get slightly irritating after a while
Clockwork Tin Soldiers
Milky Drops From Heaven
This is undoubtedly a fine piece of work. It will definitely appeal to Radiohead fans but there is also something in there for people who hate Radiohead. Reccomended to anyone with an open mind. This is only the beginning of Jonny's solo career. Who knows what he'll do next?
FINAL RATING: 4/5