Some publication voted this one of the Best Records of 1999, so obviously Mssrs. Coyne, Drozd and Ivins have their fans. As with their earlier Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots – which we reviewed here – the Lips pay much more than lip service to surround sound. They even make it part of their album titles. Three pages of the note booklets are devoted to a diagram of how your surround speakers should be set up and a track-by-track description of exactly how they mixed the various parts of the music into a dynamic surround sound experience which doesn’t have any goal of trying to sound like you’re standing in front of the stage listening to the band.
For example, the “mix map” for Feeling Yourself Disintegrate starts with a cadenced voice going from center to back right, going “brap bap bap.” There’s an acoustic guitar at front left and a piano at front right. The bass guitar constantly moves around. There is often an attempt to communicate heavy experiences with the surround mix, such as in the map for Waiting for a Superman: “The mix is an interpretation of the ‘sensation of experience.’ It enters thru your consciousness (the front channels) and echoes and bounces around the ‘interior conscious,’ subtly changing from information and sensation to mood and meaning.” Wow; I’ve been a proponent of surround sound for music for a long time but never knew it could be used like that!
Several of the tunes are on rather juvenile subjects, such as The Gash, which seems to be about a gash on someone’s leg, and another major opus about a spider bite. Wayne Coyne seems to think he has a good voice. Nothing like good self-confidence I say. I did like The Observer; while expecting some of the band’s sci-fi-oater lyrics what we get is a nice instrumental with vocalise voices towards the end. The extras include the band’s patented “Bleep-Blop Visualizations” – little abstract animations perfectly in sync with the beat of the music, plus the same two videos which were on he previous Flaming Lips DualDisc. There are also three tunes in DD stereo only listed as Outtakes plus four more labeled Radio Sessions. They seem to be just some tracks that weren’t mixed for 5.1 surround. [I see the previous FL release got put in the Hi-Res section; this seems more appropriate for DualDiscs so that is where this one is going…Ed.]
Tracks: Race for the Prize, A Spoonful Weighs a Ton, The Spark That Bled, Slow Motion, What Is the Light?, The Observer, Waitin’ for a Superman, Suddenly Everything Has Changed, The Gash, Feeling Yourself Disintegrate, Sleeping on the Roof, The Spiderbite Song, Buggin’, 1000ft. Hands, The Captain, Satellite of You, Up Above the Daily Hum, The switch That Turns Off the Universe, We Can’t Predict the Future, It Remained Unrealizable; Videos: Race for the Prize, Waitin’ for a Superman.
– John Henry