"Bodysong" doesn't represent Jonny Greenwood's only work on film. The Radiohead guitarist does everything wrong in his score for "There Will Be Blood" (Nonesuch), and the results are a movie music breakthrough.
A soundtrack isn't supposed to assert itself while you're watching a film, but Greenwood's score becomes a character in its own right, brooding like a prescient Greek chorus as Daniel Day-Lewis's rapacious oilman, Daniel Plainview, stumbles down the road to soullessness.
Music for American period films is supposed to go heavy on the ersatz Copland - mournful trumpets and inspirational hoe-downs (only Randy Newman can pull this off) - but Greenwood's string-heavy score takes its cue from an entirely different school: Bartok quartets, Charles Ives chamber music, thundering Stravinsky. In other words, the astringent avant-garde sounds of the early 20th century that Plainview wouldn't know but that points to the future as much as he does.
The opening track, "Open Spaces," is an eerie sonic call-and-response between a vast landscape and the men who will plunder it. By the eighth cut, "Proven Lands" (adapted from a piece Greenwood was commissioned to write for the BBC), pizzicati and drumming bows have formed a prodigious industrial noise. There's beauty here as well: "Prospectors Arrive" creates a gorgeously meditative mood through which Ives-esque piano chords float like parlor music through an open window.
That's the only track that sounds remotely like Radiohead, by the way. Like everything else about Paul Thomas Anderson's movie, Greenwood's score plants seeds that flower long after the story takes place. (Hint: The film's title refers not to Plainview's era but to ours.)