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The Classics Revisted – The Flaming Lips: At War With The Mystics

by on August 23, 2010

The Flaming Lips are one of the greatest bands of all time. That is a statement not to be taken lightly, especially from myself who, beyond any doubt, can be more ambivalent than other critics.

The Flaming Lips, a band native to Oklahoma, have always been of a cosmic nature, from album titles such as, Hit to Death in the Future Head, to out-of-the-box live performances complete with trippy light shows, puppets…, a man sized gerbil ball, and tons and tons of confetti. Truly The Flaming Lips are a breed apart. And yet, they seem to have grasped an air of nonchalantness, an aura of lackadaisical descent, basically, The Flaming Lips do not give the image of too much effort.

Front man Wayne Coyne has been the lead singer and brains of The Flaming Lips since the band’s formation in 1983. Ever since hitting the music scene the Lips had sort of taken the reigns of their space-like-out-of-this-world-cosmic-ancestors, Pink Floyd. The evidence for this is quite possibly the Lips’ December 22nd, 2009 release of a cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

All together The Flaming Lips have released about 13 studio albums, 8 EPs, 7 compilations, and a huge underground following. Don’t get me wrong, The Flaming Lips have been ever increasingly known through the mainstream music industry, not many can deny that, but where they have entered the public’s eye peripherally, they always have remained true to themselves, surpassing expectations and creating masterpieces in the process.

A few years ago I took to sneaking into my older brother’s bedroom and raiding his music collection. At the time it seemed to me a vast array of music, most of which I hadn’t even heard of, it amazed me and I had to have it…although in hindsight I feel I have created a better collection of my own. One day I had “borrowed” an album which I hadn’t really any specific want for, I just enjoyed the cover artwork. It was an interesting sort, a silhouette of a man in front of what seemed to be a giant explosion in the middle of a barren desert. So, I uploaded the music to my computer, hastily placed the album back on my brothers shelf, and promptly forgot about it.

A few months after-the-fact I was very bored and decided to listen to this album. It was amazing. I had never heard anything like it! It stimulated my enjoyment, but, even more so, it stimulated my mind, causing day-dreams of defeating enemies, saving girls from cruel fates, existential thoughts of a higher nature. No, I was not on drugs, I was purely listening to an amazing work of art, for it is my belief that for music to be good it cannot simply make you bob your head or tap your foot, it must cause you to get lost in or outside of yourself.

At War With The Mystics has always had a few songs remaining in my Most Recently Played playlist, currently it is It Overtakes Me/The Stars Are So Big, I Am So Small…Do I Stand a Chance? The song starts with abruptly with a poppy bass riff and quickly adds layers and layers of melodic tones, taking over the senses and enchanting your mind.

The song goes on and you continue to listen, a rare feet by a musician, to keep attention…but then something happens…the upbeat song begins to fade and you are left with an angelic sound, a beautiful voice, and the poppy song of the past is enveloped with something from a different planet, one that almost seems to come from heaven itself. The second part of this song has always held a special place in my heart, it has moved me and made me think, it is a true work of art, I implore you, if you have not already heard it, to take a listen to this song and prove me wrong.

At War With The Mystics achieves greatness by proving a balance of catchy riffs with melodic genius, each song on this album remains a gem in itself, it is a variety of song talent that somehow connects to each other in a wondrous way. And in this way At War With The Mystics remains for Sonic, and for The Sonic Flow, one of the All-Time Eargasms.


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