The Story of Glass and the Machines of God

Article by Arthur van Pelt
Hosting by Alberto


“Somewhere in the not so distant future, we may find a world of not so subtle torments…”(1)

Glass and the Machines of God is a (presumably unfinished) Smashing Pumpkins/Billy Corgan project that dates back to the year 2000. Right now, Smashing Pumpkins official eBay account (officialspmemorabilia) is auctioning a rare and previously unreleased poster related to the project. Due to the typical limited duration of eBay auctions (30 days in this case), there is a somewhat urgent need to inform the potential buyer(s) what they are considering purchasing. With respect, SPfreaks would like to give some context to this Smashing Pumpkins auction, and speculate if a price of $250 is reasonable for memorabilia of this type. At this time, only two copies of this poster are being made available to the public. The total pressing of this particular item, however, is unknown.

The Wish to Connect it All

In the Machina, The Machines Of God (Machina) and Machina II, Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music (Machina II) era, which we will define as the years 1999 through 2000, Billy Corgan was known for trying to make connections between several of the songs he wrote for both albums.


This drawing by Billy Corgan explains the connections between the songs on Machina and Machina II. The songs ‘Virex’, ‘Disco King’, and ‘Slow Song’ would be reworked into ‘The Imploding Voice’, ‘The Everlasting Gaze’, and ‘The Crying Tree of Mercury’, respectively. More title alterations on the Machina album follow as: ‘Stand Inside’ refers to ‘Stand Inside Your Love’; ‘Sunshowers’ is in fact ‘Raindrops + Sunshowers’; ‘I of the Radio’ would become ‘I of the Mourning’; ‘Heavy Metal’ refers to ‘Heavy Metal Machine’ and ‘Glass and the Ghost’ became ‘Glass and the Ghost Children’. ‘Blue Skies Bring Tears’ (listed on the chart under its’ working title ‘Blue Skies’) appeared on both Machina albums in different versions.

Machina II moves forward with the loose story of Glass And The Machines Of God started in Machina. Songs like ‘Glass’ Theme’, ‘Cash Car Star’, ‘Home’, and the Japanese Machina album bonus track ‘Speed Kills’ (which was also the B-side of the single ‘Stand Inside Your Love’) are without a doubt related to Billy Corgan’s Glass story. Furthermore, this is what Billy Corgan explained about the Glass project in an interview in 2000.

Interview Part 1


Interview Part 2


During this interview, Billy Corgan mentioned that other artists were reworking Machina songs for the Glass project. One of these artists was Matt Walker (former Smashing Pumpkins drummer from 1996 through 1998, replacing Jimmy Chamberlin during his absence). Matt contributed at least the following four remixed songs to the project:

1. Glass (Matt Walker’s Shard1-Betrayal Remix)
2. Glass (Matt Walker’s Shattering Glass Remix)
3. In My Body (Glass & The Machines Of God Remix)
4. The Imploding Voice (Matt Walker’s Exploding 2.0 Remix)

If interested, these four songs, never commercially available to the public, can be downloaded here.

The Smashing Pumpkins Radio

The Smashing Pumpkins Radio, launched on August 14, 2000, on the official website of the band, is loosely connected to the Glass theme. Mainly because of the name of one of the three streams, and the focus of the streams on the then-recent Machina songs. From the beginning it featured two different radio-like streams, followed by a single stream that replaced the initial two. When looking at the running times of each of the three streams, one may conclude they are three demo CDs similar to Mashed Potatoes (1994) that were handed to the site moderator for streaming online.

The first stream was titled Punch Drunk + Dizzy, containing 15 tracks, amongst them ‘Age Of Innocence’ (live 2000), ‘Lover’ (live 1998) and ‘The Vigil’ (live 1988). The total running time of this stream was 71:05. The second stream was titled Collapsing Cities , which contained 13 tracks and had a total running time of 72:19. Some of the featured tracks were ‘Heavy Metal Machine’ (live 2000), ‘The Everlasting Gaze’ (live 2000) and ‘Speed Kills’ (live 1999).

Later on a third stream with the name Glass Towers replaced the other two streams. Glass Towers contained 16 tracks and had a running time of 72:59. Songs like ‘I Want You To Want Me’ (studio 1998), ‘My Mistake’ (demo 1997) and ‘Let Me Give The World To You’ (demo 1998) were to be found in this stream. The three streams together encompassed the band’s career between 1988 and 2000, showcased mostly by live tracks from various concerts. In case someone wants to give The Smashing Pumpkins Radio another listen, here are the songs for your listening pleasure.


Glass And The Machines Of God  (The Animated Web Series)

The following text originated from Wikipedia. However, it cannot be found there anymore. It was copied to a few other places and was taken from those sources:

“In June of 2001, a few members of the Smashing Pumpkins Message Board were sent mysterious video clips that pointed to a website called Black Wings Over the World. Thus began the “June Mystery”. The first website held clues to find two other websites, also hiding the username/password for one site – The Paracell Corporation. Black Wings also hid another site’s address, Smash The System. Over the next two months more clues were dropped on the message board and more sites were found and codes cracked. Finally, all this frenzy of mystery and excitement climaxed with the announcement that Glass And The Machines Of God was being made as a web based animated series.

In the first episode, Zero hears the Voice in the Radio and contacts his old friend and manager, Ruby. Their conversation is intercepted and patched through to the head of the Paracell Corp, Mr. Valentine – who has had a history with Zero.


Episode two shows Zero’s transformation into Glass while visiting Ruby and the subsequent negotiations to get The Machines of God their first gig.


In the third episode we see how Glass affects the audience with his message of revolution.


Some Smashing Pumpkins fans however were disappointed, since they had been hoping that the project was a signal that the band was reuniting.

This was an early example of an internet-based alternate reality game, a form of viral marketing. The series would be interactive, to a degree, and everyone would have the chance, via Sony’s Screenblast, to create their own characters and remixes for the series.

The animated series has since been ‘put on the shelf’ indefinitely. Various rumors attribute the end of the project as lack of interest from Billy Corgan and/or his fans. Three episodes [shown above] were leaked onto the internet in 2003. There has been debate over whether these were early ‘drafts’ or final cuts. The first two episodes contain no credits, where the third episode shows credits at the beginning.


There was also debate about whether or not background characters were in fact the Ghost Children created by the fans. However, one character – Maya, the Paracell psychic – is known to be a character created by a fan.”

So far for this deleted Wikipedia text floating around on the internet. It seems quite accurate for what happened in 2001 and onwards. For that reason we leave it untouched. With the reissues of Machina and Machina II to be expected next year, we will have to see if anything of this Glass project returns, integrated in the total Machina concept. The audio of the three episodes above can be downloaded here.

Let’s go back to the two posters on auction that inspired this article. Is that poster genuine? Yes, of course, as the band itself is selling it. Is that poster rare? We presume the two posters come from a limited print run of prototype posters that were sent to Billy Corgan in 2001, so yes, it is most probably very rare. Is it worth $250? We hardly see Smashing Pumpkins posters being sold for prices like these. We know however of at least one rare poster reaching the $300 range sales price on auction.

Can this Glass poster be put in the same category as the 1991 Metro poster? Yes and no. Yes, because it is extremely rare memorabilia of an unfinished project that has caused a lot of buzz in the Smashing Pumpkins fan community back in the day. Yes, because the band is willing to sell it from its cherished archives. No, because the poster is not of a typical high quality pressing like the 1991 Metro poster. We leave it to the buyer if he/she is willing to pay the collectors’ price that Smashing Pumpkins want. In the end, a buyer now has the context and the background story of the poster antecedents. Good luck bidding, whoever you are!

(1) First sentence of Glass and the Machines of God / a Modern Fable by Billy Corgan, published on the Smashing Pumpkins website in 2000 somewhere. The full text of the fable can be read here.

Advertisements

4 responses to “The Story of Glass and the Machines of God

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s