Theme From The Swan

The Passengers project is often cited as one of the most out-there things ever done by U2, yet for much of it, it’s not that much of a leap; it’s merely more instrumental, with a fair amount of it in song form. Electronica, even in 1995, wasn’t alien to U2, and as such Original Soundtracks 1 is effectively a slightly artier and less deranged Zooropa. Really, I’d argue that there’s only one song on the album that is, truly, beyond U2 in every single last sense. In this one song, the slam and/or funk of Larry Mullen’s drumming isn’t present; the alternatively rhythmic and lyrical bass of Adam Clayton has nary a note; there exists not a single delay upon any instrument, let alone the guitar which isn’t there, and finally, there’s no Bono to heft the song to the back of a stadium. This is “Theme From The Swan”, then.

“The Swan” sort-of draws from La Monte Young‘s long-tone minimalist works, as well as the perennial influence of Brian Eno, with the use of drawn-out notes on a cello giving an incredibly soft, ambient texture. It might be argued that this is Brian Eno taking hold, and it mostly is, but it has an interlude-like feel that almost certainly doesn’t come through on Music For Airports. Overall it’s a very mysterious song, only aided by the fact that the song is rarely written about. To be fair, that’s partly as it’s not a song that jumps out, and its ephemeral nature can render it forgettable. It does, however, stand as a testament to how far U2 could go, along with the admittedly superior “Viva Davidoff“.

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~ by 4trak on July 11, 2008.

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