Themes for an Imaginary Film
Man. Now this is a thing. Thirty-six tracks by Chromatics’ and Glass Candy’s Johnny Jewel, who also had a hand in helping creating the soundtrack for the awesome movie, Drive. Initially, Jewel composed the entire soundtrack to Drive but producers nixed it. So, you would assume that Themes for an Imaginary Film, by Jewel’s newest project Symmetry, is the lost Drive soundtrack. Well, you would assume wrong asshole. Kidding. But no, Themes is NOT the soundtrack Jewel claims on his SoundCloud page. Apparently Jewel has been working on the album for nearly three years and says the album is ”two hours of claustrophobic cinematic bliss compiled for Painters, Writers, Photographers, Designers, Cruisers, Night Walkers, & Dreamers” and “Stripped it to its most primitive & visceral core, this is music written for picture. Your life is the film & this is the soundtrack.”
Themes does feel like the soundtrack to your life. It is an epic and moody LP full of powerful cinematic moments all with a nostalgic 80s twinge. However, it is most successful when you’re actively listening to it and I don’t mean giving it your undivided attention. Having it play while doing something — almost anything — will be more affective than just sitting at your computer and listening to it while you’re interneting.
Fortunately for me, I’m on trains/subways and driving for about four hours a day, so Themes really clicked for me. Hearing the opening track, the aptly titled “Introduction” while I’m warming up my car at 6:30 in the morning is pretty rad. Then driving through the empty city while the track shifts into “City of Dreams” makes someone as uncool as me feel like Ryan Gosling racing through the streets of L.A.
There are dark moments, light moments, creepy moments — just about every feeling and emotion you can imagine. “Behind the Wheel” for instance is a crystalized and mysterious song that dangerously builds up and makes you feel like you’re part of a renegade group ie: Final Fantasy VII or AKIRA. I mean, Themes can make the most mundane parts of your day feel like an epic, blockbuster scene from a huge hollywood movie. Then there is the closer “Streets of Fire” which features Chromatics singer Ruth Radelet. “I take the night train to the sky,” she sings and pretty much sums up the entire feeling to Themes.
The downside to Themes is the length. Two hours is a bit much but fans of Jewel and all his side projects and Italians Do It Better won’t mind at all. There is some filler but taken as a whole concept, the good definitely outweighs the fluff.
Themes for an Imaginary Film is a beautiful piece of work. At times, it can be mind blowing — when that certain song hits that right moment. Perhaps you’re out for a late night walk in the city and “Bloodsport” comes on. Then you think someone is following you and you’re listening to “Threshold.” When those moments happen there is a sort of joy that comes over you and you just want to give Johnny Jewel a big thank you and hug for making something this appealing and special.
Listen to the Symmetry’s entire Themes for an Imaginary Film on Johnny Jewel’s SoundCloud below: