Miss Sarajevo

‘Original Soundtracks 1’ is a 1995 album recorded by U2 and Brian Eno, as a side project, under the pseudonym Passengers. It is a collection of songs written for mostly imaginary movies (the exclusions being songs for ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ ‘Miss Sarajevo,’ and ‘Beyond the Clouds’). U2 and Eno formed Passengers as a side-project during the preliminary recording sessions for U2’s 1997 album, ‘Pop.’

Their intention was to record a soundtrack for Peter Greenaway’s 1996 film ‘The Pillow Book’ as a warm up before the main ‘Pop’ sessions. Though the plan did not come to fruition, Eno suggested they continue recording for imaginary films. U2 were unsure of the idea at first, but agreed after Eno told them that producing radio hits was not the goal of the collaboration

U2 had frequently improvised in the past, and in the ‘Original Soundtracks 1’ sessions they engaged in free-form jamming to video clips from various films. Eno stated, ‘Listening to the original improvisations as they came off the floor, you feel the excitement of the process … You have to be careful not to disturb the organic flow of the thing.’ The group brought in producer Howie B to cut down and mix some of the tracks after several hours of jam sessions had been recorded.

Part of the group’s intent in creating ‘Original Soundtracks 1’ had been to make a ‘night-time’ record. Lead vocalist Bono said, ‘It feels like it’s been set on the bullet train in Tokyo. Every record has a location, a place where you enjoy listening to it, whether that be a bedroom or a club, well this record location is a fast train. It’s slo-mo music though. But it has an odd sense of speed in the background.’ He also noted that when creating works for soundtracks the visual suggestion from the music is more important than the story told by the lyrics. With this in mind the band had tried to create ‘visual music’ when recording, continuing a trend that began with their 1993 song ‘Zooropa.’

About half of the album is instrumental, and the vocal tracks generally stray from the clear hooks and melodies that usually define U2’s work. Of these, the delicate ‘Miss Sarajevo,’ featuring Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti on vocals, is considered the most memorable. One of the tracks, ‘Your Blue Room,’ features U2 bassist Adam Clayton reciting the final verse. This marks only his second recorded vocal on a U2 project, the first being on ‘Endless Deep,’ the B-side to 1983’s ‘Two Hearts Beat as One.’ Brian Eno alluded to some extra tracks that were recorded with the Japanese singer Holi at the time and that they may be released at some point in the future: ‘…in fact we did several things together in four hours. Some of the other pieces are really lovely too, and I’m sure will see the light of day. But she was absolutely fantastic.’

The album alleges to be a collection of songs written for movies, hence the title ‘Original Soundtracks.’ The album’s booklet contains detailed descriptions of the film for which each song was written. This concept can be seen as something of a successor to Eno’s ‘Music for Films’ album and is also the base of the Dutch electronic duo Arling & Cameron’s album ‘Music for Imaginary Films.’ Because of the nature of the music and the decision to release it under another name, the album is easily the least known and worst selling in the U2 catalog.

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