That challenge lies at the very heart of this album, which brings together one of rock and electronic music’s superheroes, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, with one of his own idols: the septuagenarian Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. The collection features two string pieces written by the elder composer, 1960’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and 1961’sPolymorphia for 48 strings, juxtaposed with two of Greenwood’s similarly set answers to Penderecki’s work: Popcorn Superhet Receiver (inspired by Threnody) and 48 Responses to Polymorphia. Here, they both choose to use a seemingly antiquated vehicle — orchestral strings — to convey the noise, chaos and energy of our time. The results are ear-tingling.
While we are talking about collaborations, we should mention that Thom and Jonny recently collaborated with DOOM on a track called “Retarded Fren” for a compilation celebrating the 10th anniversary of Lex Records called Complex. The song samples “Proven Lands”, a track Jonny did for the There Will Be Blood score.
Lost in all the recent announcements about Radiohead and Atoms for Peace was the news that Jonny Greenwood is planning to release an album with renown Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. You may recall that Jonny recently took part in a concert event in Poland celebrating Penderecki’s work. It was during that weekend that the two recorded some compositions that will be released in an upcoming album.
It will be a fantastic event. Krzysztof Penderecki, one of the greatest composers, and Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood, who performed Sunday at the inaugural concert of this year’s edition of the Sacrum Profanum Festival, are recording an album! It will be prepared by the National Audiovisual Institute and released by the legendary American label Nonesuch Records. The record will contain compositions by Penderecki and Greenwood that resounded at the concert crowning Wroc?aw’s European Culture Congress. The album’s tracks were recorded yesterday and today in Alvernia Studios, a studio based near Krakow. The producer of the album is Filip Berkowicz, the Artistic Director of the Sacrum Profanum Festival.
Jonny Greenwood at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Poland last night.
Jonny Greenwood had quite the weekend in Poland. On Friday night, his reworking of Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Polymorphia” entitled “48 Responses to Polymorphia” was premiered at the European Culture Congress in Wroclaw. Greenwood was part of a concert event which also included Aphex Twin celebrating Penderecki’s work. Here’s a description written before the event:
The programme of two concerts in Wroc?aw includes three compositions by Penderecki: “Polymorphia for strings”, “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” and “Canon for strings”. All these works, written for strings (in the latter case, for strings and tape delay), come from 1960-1962, the avant-garde years of the composer’s life. Both Aphex Twin and Jonny Greenwood will invoke just that period in their music. “Polymorphia” – performed for the first time 50 years ago – has become their source of inspiration. Aphex Twin is composing “Polymorphia Reloaded” while Jonny Greenwood – “48 Responses to Polymorphia”; both compositions will have their world premiere in Wroclaw.
On Sunday night, Jonny performed at the opening concert at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Kraków. The week-long festival offers a retrospective of some of composer Steve Reich’s most iconic works, as well as newer additions. Jonny performed Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint,” a composition written in 1987 with three movements: “Fast,” “Slow,” and “Fast.”
After the jump, you can view Friday’s night’s performance of Jonny’s “48 Responses to Polymorphia” as well as an interview with him about Penderecki.
UPDATE: You can now watch a video of Jonny’s performance of “Electric Counterpoint” here.