Music Artist Spotlight – 02/28

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips are the most uplifting-yet-depressing band to ever exist. Their music borderlines on an angelic kind of psychedelic rock, with heavy synth presence among the guitar work and traditional bass and drums. Started in 1983 as a mainly guitar oriented band the group always had a knack for Psychedelic arrangements and surreal elements (For example an album title: The Day They Shot a Hole in the Jesus Egg). This trademark carried over as the band shifted focus from traditional to a new sound all their own. Using electronic sounds and making them feel as natural as the sun shining on your face, the Lips use sound in creative ways to convey feelings of sorrow, joy, anger, fear, confusion, basically any human emotion. The groups experiments with sound led to a series of experiments (“The Parking Lot Experiments” and “The Boom Box Experiments“) to explore new ways of manipulating sound. These experiments also involved the audience members, having tapes and decks handed out to volunteers who would then be conducted by the band to adjust the volume, balance, or equalizers on their decks. These concerts became a huge hit with Lips fans, and the album Zaireeka showed off the ability to create an album that allowed the user to be a part of it. Zaireeka was a 4 CD album, with different parts of each song (each CD’s tracklist was the same) essentially split into 4 sets of 2 channel stereo sound with different sounds per CD. While the album was a commercial failure, it was an early entry in the surround sound music market, as well as interactive music.The Flaming Lips’s music deals with understanding the world around us and the reality that we must face as each day ends and begins. For some people, tracks like “Do You Realize??”, which deals with the inevitability of death and how we often live our lives forgetting that we are eventually doomed to nothing, may be too much for them to handle. Most of their songs deal with this kind of heavy content, contemplating on existence rather than what’s for dinner. But despite the gravity of their lyrical content, their music is lush, hopeful and upbeat, signaling that all is not lost. Some people consider listening to a Flaming Lips album to be a religious experience, uplifting and enlightening at the same time. The Lips preach the knowledge of mortality and our significance in the universe. They also like to use sound space as efficiently as possible and are big fans of surround sound music. Three of their albums, The Soft Bulletin,Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, and At War with the Mystics have been given the 5.1 surround sound mix treatment as well as having a stereo only version (The surround versions come with the original CD as well). Their use of sound unfolds into an even greater magnitude with the added clarity of the extra channels. Just as important to the Flaming Lips is the sound as is the visual component, with a unique art style and an incredible live show.

A Flaming Lips live show hearkens back to the days where the music was just as important as the theatrics on stage. The Lips frequently use pyrotechnics, props, visual backdrops (often videos projected over top of the band), and lots and lots of confetti. Fake blood too. The show usually starts off with the group coming out one at a time, building up a song until at last Lead Vocalist Wayne Coyne emerges in a plastic bubble, which he often uses to run over top of the audience towards the stage. The unique blend of flashy visuals, explosive energy, audience participation (Wayne often calls for them to sing during parts of most of the show, but they tend to know the parts to sing before he has to tell them) and a well produced live sound is what keeps Lips fans from coming back for more. Q Magazine listed the Lips as one of the 50 bands you must see before you die. The Lips recently released a live DVD titled UFOs at the Zoo which documented a show they put on in their hometown of Oklahoma City. If you want to get a taste of what a live show of theirs is like, you can either wait for them to come around on tour or you can check out that DVD. But you really, really should see them live.

Right now, the Lips consist of Lead Vocalist/Guitar/noise maker Wayne Coyne, Multi-Instrumentalist Steven Drozd, Bassist Micheal Irvins, and Drummer Kliph Scurlock. The band has been playing live shows almost exclusively at music festivals for the last few years, with the exception of a few events. Most recently, Halloween and New Years events for Oklahoma City were held by the Lips. The band has not announced a new album yet, making their last studio album to be released the more Political album At War with the Mystics, released in 2006.

Flaming Lips Official Site
The Flaming Lips Official Myspace

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Published in: on February 29, 2008 at 3:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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