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Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood Breaks U.K. Classical Charts

Jonny Greenwood
Jim Dyson, Getty Images

While Radiohead are busy road testing new material on their current tour (and prompting speculation about their next album), guitarist Jonny Greenwood has scored (Get it? Scored? Ha ha ha) his first solo hit on the U.K. classical charts.

Classical may not be the first genre that comes to mind when you think of Greenwood’s distinctive guitar work, but his interests have always been bigger than rock; as fans no doubt recall, he contributed an original orchestral score to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film ‘There Will Be Blood’ — and like much of Radiohead’s music, his new classical hit pushes musical boundaries while bridging genres that are often kept far apart.

Greenwood’s latest side project, bearing the unwieldy title ‘Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima/Popcorn Superhet Receiver/Polymorphia/48 Responses to Polymorphia,’ is a collaboration with the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki featuring two compositions from each performer. (Greenwood cheated a little with ‘Popcorn Superhet Receiver,’ which was originally featured in the ‘There Will Be Blood’ score, but we’ll let it slide.)

As Greenwood recently told the UK’s Daily Telegraph, he’s been a fan of the 78-year-old Penderecki for years. “I did three weeks at college just before Radiohead signed to EMI, and one of the lecturers played us some Penderecki and said ‘orchestras can sound like this too,’” he told the tabloid. “That was my idea of what contemporary music was for a long time.”

“I fell in love with electronics, which for me was the terra incognita, because I had never heard such sounds,” he continued. “If you’d asked me 50 years ago, I would have said the future of music is only electronic, but I would have been wrong. I learned how to produce everything I needed with live instrumentalists, so I don’t need electronics.”

Penderecki will have a chance to reinforce Greenwood’s words when he leads a live performance of the album this Thursday (March 22). Watch a clip from a performance of ’48 Responses To Polymorphia’ below:

Watch Jonny Greenwood’s ’48 Responses to Polymorphia’

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