With the decreasing effect that a band like Radiohead can honestly have in music, it only makes sense than a musician like Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead’s guitarist) will be trying to increase eir versatility. This is done well with eir soundtrack for Norwegian Wood, a Japanese film set in the early sixties that focuses on a couple that is tremendously affected by the death of one of their mutual friends. Charged with creating a soundtrack that captures the specific time period in which the film is set along with the exotic location (Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan), Greenwood crafts a masterful soundtrack that succeeds both in punctuating the events in the film as well as working perfectly as a stand-alone release.
The soundtrack begins with “Mou Sukoshi Jibun No Koto, Kichinto Shitaino”, a track that gradually introduces listeners (and the film’s viewers) to the heavy emotion and drama that is to follow. “Sougen, Kaze, Zoukibayashi” is a track that changes things up slightly, its ninety-second runtime acting as a quick curtain-change for the actors and musicans present. The meat of the soundtrack truly begins during a brief break from Greenwood’s own musical stylings; Can’s “Mary, Mary So Contrary” fits in properly despite being substantially different in tone and sound from Greenwood’s efforts.
Rather than reiterating some of the previous statements that were made with the first half of the CD, Greenwood continues to experiment and closely capture the emotive content from the film with the latter half. Whether during “Watashi Wo Toru Toki Wa Watashi Dake Wo Totte Ne” or the morose “Hageshii Genchou”, Greenwood makes every attempt to involve listeners. While the film has not gotten a wide American release at this point, I sincerely hope that Greenwood’s soundtrack gets the appreciation that it deserves.
Top Tracks: Sougen, Kaze, Zoukibayashi, Mata Aini Kuru Kara Ne
Norwegian Wood: Original Music By Jonny Greenwood (CD) / 2011 Nonesuch / 14 Tracks / http://www.nonesuch.com