Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood has teamed up with Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur and Indian group the Rajasthan Express in order to meld music of Western, South Asian and Middle Eastern origins into a varied and compelling collaboration. The process of making the album was even captured by Paul Thomas Anderson, featured in his film that's also titled Junun. Produced by long-time Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, the music has a clarity and melancholy to it characteristic of his other production work.
Particularly striking pieces on Junun include the layered build-up of "Allah Elohim," which features evocative vocals, brooding guitar and melodic trumpet embellishments. The contemplative, hypnotizing "Ahuvi" finds the musicians exploring dissonance and a more minimalist approach than preceding tracks, its strings, lonely guitar and vocal strongly atmospheric.
The looping "Hu," revolving around the sound of the sarangi, builds into a melodically hopeful and triumphant number, a steady beat grounding the instrumentation as the vocals soar. "Junun Brass" is a full-sounding instrumental with a danceable, thumping beat, while "Kalandar" is full of tension and curiosity, driven by bounding synth and flute.
With Junun, Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and the Rajasthan Express succeed in creating a textured and energetic collection of songs that transcend genre and the generalizations often used when describing non-Western music. This is music to be embraced and celebrated. (Nonesuch)