Monday, April 5, 2010

I'd Love to Turn You On #6: The Flaming Lips - Zaireeka

Welcome to Twist & Shout’s “I’d Love To Turn You On” a fortnightly column by our deeply knowledgeable staff of hardcore collectors and music lovers who want to spend some time turning you on to some of their favorite releases of yore; titles that may have slipped out of the public favor, or perhaps never quite found the audience they deserve. Dig in to some terrific musical esoterica and enjoy the sounds.

The Flaming Lips have always been weird. The past decade and a half have shown their weirdness, originality and inventiveness truly come alive, not unlike an odd little creature growing and maturing (mature, you ask? Wayne Coyne is approaching 50 after all). In 1997 the band released Zaireeka a four-CD set with each disc designed to be played simultaneously on four different CD players. Inspired by the 'Parking Lot Experiments' in 1996 in which the band handed out cassettes to be played in attendee's car stereos, Zaireeka consists of eight songs with each disc containing different portions of the songs on each track. When the four CDs are played together, you hear the complete songs from four different sources in four different areas of the room. Many factors affect a Zaireeka listening experience: the quality of the CD players and speakers used, the volume set on each player, your choice of physical positioning in the room and even if the CDs are started at the same exact time - CD players are likely to become slightly off-sync. This doesn't mean it is being heard 'wrong' this way, just different. No two sessions will be exactly the same - thus the brilliance of it!

Now the songs: All eight tracks are songs with melodies, beats, vocals, etc. but they are enhanced with all sorts of extra noises and sounds. These do not clutter up the songs with noise (though there are some intense, noisy sections) but mostly add ambience or texture to the well-written songs that these three guys have honed quite well. Wayne's voice is top-notch here, showing his capable harmonies and emotion put into focus leading songs like "Riding to Work in the Year 2025 (Your Invisible Now)" and "Thirty-Five Thousand Feet of Despair." There are multiple moments of psychedelia and disorientation at the same time, but never is there a dull instance. These recording sessions contained leftovers that ended up as songs on The Soft Bulletin, though they're a bit more contained there. Zaireeka's finale is a fantastic tale about Wayne's dogs. It is told by Wayne as he likes to do: segueing into an ultra catchy song title sung and repeated, then climaxing in an ending you just have to hear - and hear it properly! Meaning: I advise you NOT to play each disc by itself or mix them together onto one CD-r. Take the extra time and effort and borrow a couple of friends and their CD players and create your own experience as this album is intended and deserves!


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