Radiohead dude Jonny Greenwood debuted new material for the second time this year on Monday night. “Skip Loop” follows “Loop” in an ongoing display of the musician’s solo work during Radiohead’s yearlong sabbatical. And each piece clearly reflects the guitarist’s “off-season” escapades.
Greenwood previously submitted an essay to The Guardian detailing his exploits into classical performance this year, including the opportunity to play live with premiere ensembles like the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the London Contemporary Orchestra. The musician admits that these forays have inspired new perspectives on live music: “It's intended for concerts instead of recordings, which is a new way of thinking about music for me.”
And indeed, the two songs Greenwood has released thus far are demonstrative of those experiences with classically-trained musicians, as both are intimate, minimalist guitar works best served live.
“It's a very affecting thing to be in the same room as these musicians – a little embarrassing, even. You're being shown something so personal, especially with chamber music, that it's almost awkward.”
Both pieces capture that affecting tone. In “Loop,” the guitar repeats an arpeggiated figure, gradually employing additive and subtractive processes and syncopation to vary the sequence while concurrently allowing the rest of the instruments to undulate beneath it. “Skip Loop” is a much more atmospheric piece that relies upon the character of the entire ensemble, utilizing each instrument holistically. Where “Loop” is frenetic, “Skip Loop” is languid, and together they construct a complementary tandem that exhibits Greenwood’s burgeoning skill as auteur.
Whether those two songs will develop into a larger collection remains to be seen, but we can at least look forward to a new Radiohead album soon. The band recently announced that they will begin working this September on what will assumedly result in the follow-up record to 2011’s King of Limbs.
September will be a busy month for our man Jonny Greenwood, who will finally be performing live his film score to There Will Be Blood—with the film actually playing in the background (!). On September 19 and 20, the film will be projected at the United Palace Theater on the second-largest movie screen in NYC while musicians (including Greenwood) perform the score in real-time. It seems Greenwood’s classical capers have had more of an influence on him than he could have imagined—here's to hoping the guitarist's newfound, poignant character is perceptible in Radiohead's next record.