Jonny Greenwood - Spencer (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Music Album Reviews

Jonny Greenwood - Spencer (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Music Album Reviews
The alternately beautiful and unnerving score to Pablo Larraín’s surreal film about Princess Diana captures the elegance of a royal holiday and the horror of feeling trapped inside of it.

Pablo Larraín’s Spencer is a story of fitful disappointment, an unhappy obligation from its beginning that grows only bleaker as the tale unfolds. The protagonist, Diana, Princess of Wales (née Diana Spencer), sees that her future, if it even exists, has already been written for her. Jonny Greenwood’s music for the film, accordingly, is often unsettling, amplifying Diana’s discomfort with being held prisoner at Sandringham House with her unfaithful husband and the British royal family for Christmas traditions. Greenwood’s score, sinister and moody, marries the Baroque stylings that would likely have soundtracked royal gatherings for centuries with free jazz that represents Diana’s defiant presence as the People’s Princess. The music amplifies and elucidates Spencer’s themes, the sound of a free spirit and caged bird who becomes increasingly untethered from reality as she longs to escape. And, on its own, the Spencer soundtrack is also an impressive work of fusion, an album that is ambitious in scope and exquisitely detailed.

Emotionally, Greenwood’s Spencer is alternately melancholy and foreboding. The title theme, played on piano by Greenwood in its sparest form, is closest to the composer’s music for Phantom Thread (namely, the Paul Thomas Anderson film’s title themes and the standout “House of Woodcock”) in that it’s teasingly beautiful but never blooms into its brightest and fullest form, a lovely little melody that’s akin to a deep exhale, weary of its own simplicity and purity and nearly dejected.

Greenwood expands the “Spencer” theme on several songs, including the opening “Arrival,” modified slightly and played even more morosely by a string quartet before the free jazz ensemble, led impressively by trumpeter Byron Wallen, abandons the leitmotif and draws out the more menacing elements of the composition. Pianist Alexander Hawkins and drummer Tom Skinner (a Sons of Kemet fixture and Greenwood’s bandmate in the Smile) stand out, too, their playing growing wilder as they pull the song further away from the theme and the quartet recedes to the background.

The “Spencer” leitmotif, a musical stand-in for Princess Diana, is most traditional on “The Boys” and most foreboding when played on organ, especially the near-cacophonous “Press Call.” It also serves as a grounding force for a record that flirts with chaos, as on the Pendereckian “Calling the Whipper In,” which blends stabs of string with trumpet blasts and unhinged harpsichord. Depending on how you see it, the “Spencer” melody is either the anchor or the albatross of the album, a grounding force and reminder of the elegance at its heart or a stubborn commitment to retreat to what is safe and what is expected when improvisation and discordance are more tantalizing.

Spencer, of course, allows for both interpretations. Diana, in the film’s surrealistic portrayal of a long holiday weekend in December 1991, is forced to confront the hell in which she’s found herself, a decade into her disintegrating marriage to Prince Charles and left with all the accompanying distresses and scrutiny of royalty. However she got there, it’s still a hell, and she wants out. The soundtrack features further moments of tension, such as “Home / Lacrimosa,” burying the listener amid a cascade of organ and orchestra, glistening but overwhelming. “Invention for Harpsichord and Compression,” too, finds Greenwood hurrying his tempo and increasing his volume to make his delicate instrument play with ferocity. There is beauty throughout Greenwood’s Spencer, and it always sounds as if it’s about to collapse.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Jonny Greenwood - Spencer (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Music Album Reviews Jonny Greenwood - Spencer (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 10, 2021 Rating: 5


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