Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Drive In: A Different Kind of Blue

In 1995 a weird album by an unknown band was released and hardly noticed. The band was The Passengers and the album was called Original Soundtracks 1. Supposedly this was a collection of songs The Passengers had made for various films. Each of the films included a detailed synopsis. Take for example this description of the film "Elvis Ate America" (for which The Passengers wrote a song of the same name):

After finishing 'Popcorn', his first film, in 1978, Jekk Koons continued his emerging exploration of pop iconography with the now legendary "Elvis Ate America" - a four minute work using a fragment of super 8 footage shot by the teenage Koons at one of Presley's Las Vegas 'Rhinestone' concerts in the early seventies. The final edit of the film was destroyed by fire but Koons is considering remaking it.

Or how about "Ghost in the Shell" (the accompanying song is called "One Minute Warning")

"Ghost In The Shell" was an animation feature directed by Mamoru Oshii in 1995. It was adapted from Masamune Shirow's graphic novel where an internationally notorious computer criminal surfaces in Japan. Codenamed "The Puppet Master" for his ability to manipulate people's minds, thsi unique and mysterious 'super-hacker' is suspected of a multitude of offenses including stock market manipulation, illegal data gathering, political manoeuvring, terrorist acts and infringement of cybernetic ethics. Section 9, Japan's elite secret service is called in to capture this elusive criminal, but only to discover that the elaborate web of evidence leads back to Japan's own Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a computer virus secretly created by them as the ultimate tool in political and commercial espionage.

But here's the thing: neither of these movies exist. In fact NONE of the movies described in the liner notes of Original Soundtracks 1 exists and, really, neither do The Passengers. The whole thing was a lark put on by U2 (remember when they were still cool?) and Brian Eno. U2 decided they wanted to make some really weird music with Eno and Island Records, U2's label, felt a little hesitant about associating that weirdness with U2. And thus The Passengers were born.

Here's a video for "A Different Kind of Blue". The fake film it was associated with was "An Ordinary Day", about a couple whose Houston hi-rise apartment is actually a time machine causing them to age in reverse.

Check out the rest of the fake films' synopses.

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Kate said...

My favorite was always Your Blue Room. I never did get into the Passengers stuff too much but I've always thought it was a brilliant concept. Though it wasn't widely appreciated (most likely because it's something creatively different) I don't think it could have been accomplished by "U2". Becoming "The Passengers" was just as much a part of the fantasy as the non-existent movies the songs were supposedly for. You make it sound as if adopting "the Passengers" moniker was done out of some kind of embarrassment on the part of the band or the record label.

web diversions said...

I was basing that on this wikipedia article, but in all fairness it's not cited and Wikipedia isn't known to be the most reliable source. I definitely don't think the band was embarrassed by it, but I can definitely see Island not wanting this album to effect the U2 "brand" and how they were viewed by their fans. It might also just have been a result of Brian Eno's large role in the project (he's doing the vocals on this song actually). I dunno hoss.