ME PHI ME
: : Strange Days : :

An arresting vision of the future has produced an equally arresting soundtrack.

 

        Epic Soundtrax presents music from the motion picture Strange Days, a Twentieth Century Fox/Lightstorm release. Combining the unique visions of director Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark, Blue Steel, Point Break) and Oscar®-nominated writer/producer James Cameron (Titantic, Aliens, Terminator I and 2, True Lies), the film opens nationwide in 1200 theaters on October 13. Strange Days was also the opening night presentation of the 1995 New York Film Festival.

        A thriller set in L.A. in the final days of 1999, Strange Days stars Oscar®-nominated actor Ralph Fiennes (Schindler's List, Quiz Show, The English Patient), Angela Bassett (What's Love Got To Do With It) and Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear, Natural Born Killers). With the year 2,000 just a day away, the world is a fast and ominous place, where technology has hacked into the ultimate piece of copy- protected software -- the human brain. Black marketeers peddle bootlegged human experience to customers hungry for playback.

        A hybrid of alterna/metal, world music, adult alternative, dance and hip-hop, Strange Days provides a tantalizing glimpse of where music is now, and where it may be headed. Director Bigelow was mindful that, for its all weighty connotations, the end of the century is not terribly far off. "When you're looking at something that's only four years away, " she reasons, "there has to be a level of familiarity with the material. It has to feel like a natural evolution." Nonetheless, it was important to Bigelow that the music "not be tentative...it had to take a very strong stance."

        Taking a very strong stance is a calling card of Skunk Anansie, the new British band who fuse punk, metal, funk and reggae with fierce social commentary. The frenetic outfit first came to Bigelow's attention with a track from their Epic debut album Paranoid And Sunburnt, the blistering "Selling Jesus," which they perform live in an outdoor party scene in the film. The director also turned to Skunk Anansie to score the following sequence, a heart-stopping chase. The resulting musical juggernaut, "Feed," she notes with approval, "just explodes in front of you."

        Also incendiary is Juliette Lewis, who plays a rock singer in Strange Days. The acclaimed actress performs a song written by another wholly original talent, P.J. Harvey. Bigelow's original idea was to have Lewis cover "Rid of Me," the title song from Harvey's second album. "She loves 'Rid Of Me,'" the director recalls, "but she said, 'you know, there's this other piece on 4-Track Demos called 'Hardly Wait.'" It proved to be a great idea, with Lewis giving an utterly assured, full-length reading of this slow-burning treasure.

        "hereWEcome," written by acclaimed rapper Me Phi Me and his innovative producer, Christopher Cuben-Tatum, is one of Strange Days' most powerful moments. Conceived by James Cameron for one of the film's key characters, rap star/activist Jeriko One, "hereWEcome" is state-of-the-art hip-hop-- sophisticated and, at moments, mordantly funny.

        Strange Days also bore fruit in some remarkable collaborations. Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek both produced and performed on Prong's propulsive version of the classic Doors song from which the film takes its title. The exotic "While The Earth Sleeps" is the product of an inspired partnership between world music proponent Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest. Deep Forest created still more global dance music for Strange Days, join- ing infectious dance beats to the music of the aborigines of Taiwan Island on "Coral Lounge."

        The dance music of Strange Days reflects the innovations of trip-hop (Tricky's "Over- come") and acid house (Lords of Acid's "The Real Thing"). The Satchel Partnership's new track "Walk In Freedom" has a hypnotic, sensual groove. Moshing is still allowed with Strange Fruit's "No Blue Skies." But for those who would rather waltz gracefully into the millennium, there is Kate Gibson's gorgeous version of the Leonard Cohen composition "Dance Me To The End of Love."

        Perhaps Strange Days' standout track is "Fall In The Light," composed for the film by Graeme Revell, with lyrics by singer Lori Carson. "Fall In The Light" is a graceful lullabye for the end of the century, lush and haunting, practically borne aloft by Carson's ethe- real vocals. " That song," says Kathryn Bigelow, " is kind of like a gift from God. "

        From "Selling Jesus" to a gift from God, these are the songs of Strange Days -- let them find you.


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