Bri Blahg… Thoughts On The Lips “Embryonic”

22 10 2009

by Brian Phillips (@BrianBlahg)


Flaming Lips' latest "Embryonic"

A couple of years back when I was still doing radio Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips dropped by our Bonnaroo location for an on-air chat. It was 90 plus damned degrees out, but Coyne was still in uniform; an ill-fitting thrift store three piece. He had been up all night personally overseeing the construction of the band’s UFO stage for that night’s after midnight marathon of confetti, dancing bears, and associated mirth.

As we closed I issued a gentle reminder that while The Flaming Lips output of the past ten years had been enjoyable, there were some of us who remembered when the band were a darker, louder, and much more sinister force. I shook his hand and played “Ginger Ale Afternoon” from 1992’s “Hit To Death In The Future Head.” He smiled and seemed surprised. It was like he had grown children that no one asked him about. The Flaming Lips new double length “Embryonic” is probably the closest they’ll approach that planet of sound again.

Before I make myself any more misunderstood I should point out that “Embryonic” is hardly a rehash of a bygone Lips era. That would have been a disappointment coming from a band so much more interested in the here and now. Coyne has said on many occasions that projects like “Embryonic” are born out of his complete lack of self consciousness as to how his ideas might be received. If something inspires him to so much as roll up his sleeves, then it’s worth seeing through to completion.

As is the case with so many of music history’s extended length albums, some hard choices weren’t made. The impact of songs like “Convinced Of The Hex,” “Silver Trembling Hands” and “Watching The Planets” is blunted by far too many meandering interludes. Those tracks reminded me of the Soundtrack for the Lips 2001 On A Budget backyard sci-fi flick “Christmas On Mars.” We’ve all been places we love so much we can’t leave. For The Flaming Lips it may be the giant plastic space ship in Wayne’s back yard.

Since 1999’s “The Soft Bulletin” the Lips have been in many ways a Prog rock band. On “Embryonic” they embrace it as never before. Pre “Dark Side Of The Moon” Floyd comes to mind, as do Krautrockers like Can and Neu! Others have name checked “Bitches Brew” era Miles Davis , but I’ll leave you to explore that as I will.

The world is a better place for the Flaming Lips being in it, and I certainly appreciate their willingness to take artistic risks. “Embryonic” isn’t their best by any stretch, but it has its moments.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “untitled“, posted with vodpod



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