In the tradition of Koyaanisqatsi, Bodysong is simultaneously an ugly, gorgeous, riveting, and appalling study of human life. And like Philip Glass' astounding musical visions of the images in 'Qatsi', Jonny Greenwood's score is wholly engrossing and a creative realization of the subject matter of the documentary, not to mention the first true testament to Greenwood's ambitious but remarkable compositional skills.
Technically, the music on this album is clearly first-rate. What is most impressive is the fact that Greenwood, the lead guitarist for one of the most popular rock bands today, is also such a deft composer. As it turns out, however, Greenwood was classically trained in viola at Oxford Poly and has picked up a fair share about composition. He recently signed on to be the BBCs composer in residence, indicating both his skill and his continued interest in writing and conducting. Musically, each song on this soundtrack is a standout. Together, they make one of the most sublimely beautiful instrumental albums I've ever heard. Even without watching the documentary, one can be taken away by the mysteriously inhuman moods the music invokes.
Anyone buying this album and expecting Radiohead-esque music will likely be disappointed. That said, there are musical elements common to Greenwood's compostions and Radiohead's songs (makes sense, since Greenwood does a good deal of writing for the band after frontman Thom Yorke). While no member of Radiohead appears on the soundtrack except Jonny Greenwood, his composing and orchestrating skills alone create the same brilliant kind of sound-images that float through particularly Radiohead's most recent songs. However, until this soundtrack, Greenwood's musical presence has been balanced out and - dare I say - muted by his four band mates. Guitar riffs or no, the music Jonny Greenwood has created on Bodysong is a pure translation of image to sound, and an impressive step into the world of composition.