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You Were Never Really Here [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
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  • Radiohead multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood has done more than prove his mettle with film score composition throughout the 2010s. Right off the back of his Academy Award-nominated score for Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread, he delivers his score (and second collaboration with director Lynne Ramsay after 2011's We Need to Talk About Kevin) for the thriller You Were Never Really Here. Where the rumbling, discordant bass of There Will Be Blood and the majestic, sweeping strings of Phantom Thread make up the lavish soundscapes of some of Greenwood's catalog, You Were Never Really Here is undeniably a stark thorn plunged into that aural canvas. Matching the unsettling atmosphere depicted onscreen, the album is a plethora of different kinds of organized chaos. "Sandy's Necklace" presents out-of-tune strings chiming with stuttering electronics before moving into mid-paced organic percussion, resonant viola, and palm-muted guitar riffs. "Nausea" is composed of thudding electronic beats, scuzzy synth leads, and completely out-of-time snare drums that seem to almost catch up to the bar change before abruptly disappearing again. Album highlight "Dark Streets" is composed of minimal 808-esque percussion, arpeggiated synth bass, and washes of filtered chords that punctuate every other bar. Its reprise opts for more organic percussion fed through distortion -- almost sounding like a totally deconstructed Amen break -- while rough bass cushions the familiar synth riff. That isn't to say that the score is without its softer moments. The album is bookended by "Tree Synthesizers" and "Tree Strings." The former is a beautifully composed piece with jangly strings that swim like wind chimes while swirls of ambience surround it, bringing some of the work of William Orbit to mind. The latter builds upon this with wonderfully strummed harp and resonant cello while a viola moves throughout the mix, tumbling around it like a slowly spinning feather. You Were Never Really Here is yet another example of Greenwood's unlimited creativity, innovation, and fearless approach to film score composition and music-making in general. ~ Rob Wacey
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