Sunday, April 7, 2024

Daily Jam - Prospectors Arrive

This column was originally published at the end of 2016.

2016 was sure something of a year wasn't it? (And pretty much every single one since then.) There were some definite highs, for me at least, with the birth of my second son and the marriage of my sister-in-law to her partner. But, oh how the lows kept on coming at a manic pace, the never ending carousel of artist deaths laying down a thudding, marching beat to the impending apocalypse scheduled for sometime in the near future. Some of those deaths, David Bowie's in particular, got me thinking hypothetical desert island thoughts as to what artist's entire body of work I would want to take with me were I to be stranded alone at sea. Bowie is the obvious answer for me, but I certainly had to give consideration to some of the other artists I also hold dear, like Joy Division, or Nirvana, or Radiohead.

Upon writing that last word, I can immediately hear the scoffs and sense the eyerolls of many a reader whom have deemed Radiohead to be overrated or just simply "meh." I've been a fan of the band for many years and have heard every contrarian thing one could hear muttered about the five-piece...and I get it. Anything that gets the kind of universal critical and popular praise that Radiohead does should be immediately suspect. If I wasn't a fan already, it would probably annoy me too. But with as many dissenters and objections as this band seems to generate and amass, everyone can still agree on one thing...that Jonny Greenwood is a genius. All of the ire the band (or Thom Yorke in particular) inspires drops away in regards to its lead guitarist. He still gets nods of approval and respect. One has to assume that his amazing film score work is at least partly responsible for that.

If Radiohead ever decide to officially call it quits, Greenwood already has his calling lined up. For his first mainstream movie score, the guitarist composed and/or arranged the haunting and achingly beautiful soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood. The score compliments the film so wonderfully that it's difficult to imagine one without the other. The record is enormous in mood and scope, but highlight "Prospectors Arrive" has always hit me the hardest. There is a sense of foreboding and dread to the song that is inescapable. The gentle piano sounds like the skies darkening. The eerie strings slinking in and out signal the last shred of humanity draining from one's soul. Ominous future. Haunting stillness.

It sounds like the end.

Listen below, our Daily Jam.

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