Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Flaming Lips Embryonic

If you like The Flaming Lips you already own Embryonic. And if you luuuuuuuuuv The Flaming Lips, then you already own the Deluxe Limited Edition, a reprise of an older Lips' stunt that requires the listener to coordinate and play multiple discs simultaneously on two different systems, to dig the full trippiness of the music. If you don't like the Lips, nothing on this new album is going to change your mind.

I, for one, like the Lips, and am baffled by the kvetchers in this group. Some are noting a return to "experimentation," which brings to mind John Gardner's quip that a work is only called "experimental" when it fails. I don't see that here -- or rather, "I don't hear that, see." Very early Lips is experimental, while Embryonic falls solidly into their later "The Punks Have Taken Over The Decrepit Planetarium" phase. If you must call Embryonic "experimental" I must protest that it's been tightly controlled to produce a desired effect: an aural consideration of how we collectively attempt to get a grip on how/why our species can be so incredibly evil.

Finally, if somehow you are new to The Flaming Lips, Embryonic is as good a place to start as Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. And if, like me, you are late and catching up to their crazy scene, you should check out this back issue of Stop Smiling for Jim DeRogatis' entertaining history of The Flaming Lips.

Post-Script: Oy, my aging brain. I couldn't recall why DeRogatis' name seemed so familiar, until I checked his website. Of course! DeRogatis wrote the definitive biography of Lester Bangs. Not only is it a very good book about Bangs, it is also an exceptional account of the 60s and 70s rock 'n' roll scene. Growing up in the 70s and 80s I was frequently bummed that the generation before mine got to have the most fun the first. Let It Blurt was the first book to leave me with the distinct impression that I was lucky I showed up later.


Joel said...

Haven't read "Let it Blurt", but curious about your comment. You mean you were glad you showed up later because the book made the 60s rock scene look so bad, or because it made the 70s and 80s look good?

Whisky Prajer said...

Bangs didn't think there was much to admire in the 70s music scene, and pretty much abandoned all hope for it in the 80s. So, no, my comment doesn't relate to the music scene of any of these decades, but to the ethos of the 60s. When I read how this guy moved from one shit-hole to the next where he drank his cough syrup and listened to his albums, I got a clearer picture of just how "fun" the sex 'n' drugs 'n' rock 'n' roll scene really was. Prior to that I'd read the usual survivor accounts -- Tom Wolfe, Richard Brautigan, Peter Coyote, even Mark Vonnegut couldn't help but transmit a romantic sensibility of those times. DeRogatis was a very refreshing departure from all that.

yahmdallah said...

Is the audio DVD as awesome as the amazon reviews claim it is? I got the one for the soft bulletin and I like the CD version better.

Whisky Prajer said...

I honestly don't know -- I've got the CD, and that's all. I could imagine a larger spatial dynamic in the DVD, but I've also been disappointed by lackluster DVDs. I'm also under the impression from interviews with Wayne, etc., that the Lips aren't too keen on the DVD format either. Otherwise why would they bother with their version of dueling discs?