Jonny Greenwood - Bodysong
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Jonny Greenwood
Bodysong
(EMI)

Even though Thom Yorke is often associated as "the face of Radiohead," a great deal of the atmosphere in songs of the group can be attributed to one Jonny Greenwood. Although he started out hovering over his guitar and creating some of the most-known riffs of the past decade, he's lately become more of a mad scientist, hovering over walls of old-school modular synths and twiddling knobs on other obscure instruments. Those hoping for a return of Greenwood the guitar player will most likely find themselves a little out of luck listening to Bodysong, as it is mostly Greenwood the mad scientist who's at work here.

And really, for those who have loved the last few albums by Radiohead, that's not such a bad thing. Greenwood is obviously a talented musician, and this is the first batch of songs that he's really gotten to fill out completely on his own. Having said all the above, though, listening to Bodysongs is a bit of a disappointment. There are many different things tried out, and while some of them work, the release feels like a disjointed pastiche more than anything too cohesive. Opening with a plaintive piano melody over quivering strings and other effects, the sound isn't too far removed from songs heard before. "Moon Mall" is almost more interesting (at one-fifth the length), sending ripples of reverbed guitars over a bed of malfunctioning electronics and other glitched-out sonics.

On "Trgnch," Greenwood introduces a bashed-up jazz theme that is revisited on several tracks on the release. Both "Splitter" and "Milky Drops From Heaven" bring back the wailing horns, but instead of chopped-up breakbeats Greenwood actually brings in a full band and manipulates it, most effectively on the latter track where instrumentation swarms into huge envelopes of sound before cracking off and back into something more normal again.

Elsewhere, the album launches into more oddities. "Convergence" is kitchen-sink tribal track that lopes along with some nice syncopated moments (but for far too long) while "26 Hour Charleston" is a guitar-driven (the only real one on the album) glitch-hop track that feels out-of-place next to all the more non-standard instrumentation. The closer of "Tehellet" is a lovely, orchestra and choir backed track that closes out things nicely, but once again it's just one more style on the pile of the already odd collection. Like the last Radiohead album Hail To The Thief, there are some great things here, but the overall release is difficult to get through.

rating: 610
Aaron Coleman 2004-03-11 00:00:00