Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Flaming Lips in Surround Sound

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Posted by admin On July - 1 - 2008

~Z.T.~ Some music fans say it’s a challenge to listen to The Flaming Lips’ albums. The distorted fuzzy guitars, wild sound effects and general dissonance can be a lot to take.

Their 1997 album, Zaireeka, is actually hard to listen to. It comes on four cd’s that need to be played simultaneously on four stereos. With the help of a lovely assistant, I had the pleasure of experiencing this unique album last night. With four strategically placed (wherever the cords could reach and we could still manage to press play at the same time) we immersed ourselves in a soundscape I’d never experienced before.

Instead of having the frequencies channeled through different speakers, they create the effect of surround sound by having four distinctly different discs that come together, to form a mix

A lot of first time listeners’ first reaction might be summed up in the name of the opening track: “Okay I’ll Admit That I Really Don’t Understand,” but for the most part the experiment works quite well. Though there were points where I felt like a grandfather saying “what is this noise?!”

I constantly found myself swiveling my head and moving around to grasp what each stereo was contributing. Even though we were off by a couple seconds on some of the stereos, it seemed to enhance the experience, turning synchronized singing parts into a call and response.

There are songs about the tragic story of an airplane pilot who commits suicide mid-flight, music for a cartoon about a group of demented vegetables and the album closes with a fantastically bizarre story on “The Big Ol’ Bug Is the New Baby Now.”

If you’re into the Flaming Lips at all or want your mind blown, please find this album and get some friends together. Friends with open minds. Friends with speakers. Friends with sandwiches.

(I considered writing this article by giving four alternating takes on the album, to portray the experience of listening to the album, but my brain exploded and I decided to do it straight.)

1 Response

  1. Shore Said,

    …something about fur trapping…

    Posted on July 2nd, 2008 at 12:10 am

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