THE ORCHESTRA AS GUITAR
To make it two Radiohead-related posts in a row, I’ll note Mark Pytlik’s review at Pitchfork of Jonny Greenwood’s There Will be Blood soundtrack, which succinctly nails where Greenwood is coming from in his work for orchestra.
The first hint that Jonny Greenwood might make a gifted composer came in 1997, when, bored with the syrupy, provincial strings that dominated the tail-end of Britpop, he channeled Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki for the arrangement on OK Computer’s “Climbing Up The Walls”. Essentially a wall of quarter notes played against each other, that noisy squall stood out in dramatic opposition to the “Bittersweet Symphony”s of the world. Where the traditional rock approach had always been to use strings to amplify melody and opulence, Greenwood was using them to create discord and ambience; in other words, he was playing orchestras like he played his guitar.