on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2013 4 Mrz

The Flaming Lips: The Terror (first review on planet earth)

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | 3 Comments

A band that has recently covered albums from King Crimson and Pink Floyd should know everything to make a decent well-sounding pop record with mass appeal. Instead they come up with an album full of gift-of-the-moment discoveries, frightening noises and some terrific melodies they might have stored in their brains for special occasions. THE TERROR is a multi-faceted beast, even its temporary nakedness seems like an attack on our senses.

This year’s probably most disturbing rock album opens up with an illusion of romance. „Look … The Sun Is Rising” starts with soft, sun-kissed keyboards (a first example of THE TERROR’S huge equipment of old analogue synths) , and just when Wayne Coyne’s ear-candy melody evokes a strange encounter with the TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN’s folky innocence, rumbling percussive noises undermine every simple beauty. At the end of the song the voice is hanging in the air like Eno in ancient times on „Julie with …“, and the absence of any harmonic support strenghtens the feeling of isolation.

“Be Free, A Way” seems like Wayne’s credo to cut off every form of dependance, but neither the lyrics nor the sounds offer any simple message; instead, voices swirling, crying and collapsing stimulate the atmosphere of an electrified mediaeval witch dance. “Try To Explain” shows Wayne’s voice under the microscope of producer’s David Friedman’s mixing desk, while the way Steven Drozd is playing an ancient VCS3 reminds one of some post-industrial rattling. The twilight world of Tarkowsky’s STALKER is not so far away.

“You Lust” has a weird hard core punk feel with a simple 4/4 beat and a string section that transports the music, at least in the second half, to a weird mutant of the Philly sound of the 70’s – The Flaming Lips on the dancefloor of another era. Weird noises destroy any relaxed Saturday Night-memories by introducing high frequency alarm sounds that lead directly to the next piece.

„The Terror” is maybe the central piece of the whole album. Instead of trying to go utterly mad which might be an easy option for the band, it’s a carefully crafted tune, where all tragic can be felt under the surface of one of the most heartwrenching melodies of their career. “You Are Alone” seems to be a logical conclusion after that. A regular „staccato“ bass figure is providing some solid ground, but the voice seems lost in space again. It’s like a fragmented childhood memory, always on the verge of falling apart. By the way, a lot of the album seems to be based on studio improvisation.

“Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die” is another future classic of the band, Wayne Coyne’s obsession with death seems to be very inspiring for psychedelic lamentos. Like the band’s signature tune, „Do You Realize“, it’s a perfect blend of multicolored shades, an irresistible melody and slightly hysteric sound fabrication. “Turning Violent” is exactly that, a guerilla storm of attacking instruments in front of some unavoidable darkness. (Sometimes cheap sounding mono synths are the best choice one can make).

„Always There … In Our Hearts” starts with an a capella intro of Wayne’s voice, before the whole band joins in. The song develops from a kind of carnevalesque hillbilly drug party to an overkill of goodbyes that, in the hands of others, could easily turn into pure kitsch. It makes you feel like on a children’s birthday party though everyone knows it’s a funeral. The last lines speak volumes „in our hearts, yes, yes, we know we were only dreaming this, hey ho, everyone waves goodbye, hey ho, in our hearts everything stays forever, hey ho, and is lost in the end.“ Highly recommended. Sincerely dreamed.

This entry was posted on Montag, 4. März 2013 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    In contrast to the conventions of reviewing albums (listening to the music, making notes, listening again, writing down one’s thoughts, writing the final version) this review was written without hearing the music. It is based on empathy and pure fantasy.

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Here comes reality:

  3. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Foxtrot writes:

    first thoughts and about 15 listens in i’m sticking to them:

    the terror sounds like an ambient krautrock trip through the 2011 releases and christmas on mars. it is minimal but intense. it’s evocative and cohesive. it has the emotional power of the band’s most life affirming moments, but without their usual trademark hope. it’s like being deserted on a desolate, baron planet. contemplating eternal isolation. it’s bleak, celestial and profound.

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