Tag Archives: the flaming lips

My First Zaireeka Listening Party

Yes, I know I’m more than ten years late, but last night I participated in my first ever Zaireeka listening party. Organized by the Substation’s associate artist Song-Ming Ang as part of his two-week long Sonic Visions series, this event involved the simultaneous playing of multiple copies of Zaireeka, itself an ambitious 4-cd album intended for concurrent playback for a quadrophonic aural experience, an album I always wished I owned.

Zaireeka was birthed from the Flaming Lips‘ parking lot experiments, a synchronized playing of cassettes on multiple car stereos. In his adoption of Wayne Coyne’s role in those sessions as orchestral conductor, Song-Ming sought to create a similarlly communal listening experience by inviting participants to bring their own CD-playing equipment and speakers, and subsequently work together in synching the playback of almost twenty CDs.

What fun we all had, and such satisfaction gleaned from getting as close as we could to coordinating our small but important finger-pressing tasks. Yet, to focus on perfection in execution would be missing the point of it all, which was so much more to do with embracing uncertainty and learning to relate to music in its spatial dimension. Song-Ming gamely let us toy with different arrangements too, encouraging us to walk around for some songs and sit down for the later ones while dimming the lights, and indulging our pleas for a spontaneous random-track encore finale.

Halfway through, I remembered how I used to dream, long ago, of having a room with walls made of speakers, to be quite literally surrounded by sound. Last night, I think I realized at least a part of that dream by partaking in a mindblowing experience that will never be recreated in the same way again. In the midst of the bombast, though, I think I’ve come to appreciate also the parts that make the whole, and it’s one part of Zaireeka that I dug up from my old Race for the Prize single that’s all I have to leave you with now. – Dan.

mp3: The Flaming Lips – Thirty-Five Thousand Feet Of Despair (Disc 1)

Sonic Visions is a series of events organized by Song-Ming Ang at the Substation in conjunction with his first solo exhibition in Singapore, You and I (14 Jan – 9 Feb 2011 at the Substation Random Room).


Our Favorite Gigs of 2010

What a blast 2010 has been, especially with the sheer number of concerts we’ve had this year. Here’s some of our favorite moments.

7 Feb: XX @ Esplanade Concert Hall
Though the XX was opening for Florence and the Machine, their short set at the start of the gig was my highlight of the night. I still remember standing quite near the front, having every bass and beat shake my body to the core, and feeling the goosebumps induced by relishing and experiencing firsthand the band’s understated cool. – Dan.

mp3: The XX – Crystalised

16 Mar: Dinosaur Jr. @ Esplanade Theatre
My colleague captured it best when she described this gig, part of the Mosaic Music Festival 2010 program, as an unplanned reunion party where you catch up with all your old buddies from school … and everyone is wearing the same stupid outfits from back then! Nostalgia aside, the grizzled veterans of the reunited Dinosaur Jr. played a loose and appropriately loud set that featured their signature brand of melodic discordance. – Keith.

mp3: Dinosaur Jr – Been There All The Time

11 Apr: B Quartet @ Esplanade Recital Studio
These Singaporeans boys are musicians who deliver a hundred percent in a recorded album, and go the distance when they play live. I remember being enthralled by Bani Haykal flitting in and out, between worlds as he sang his beautiful poetry or played the Xaphoon. The rest of the band thundered along like it was following lightning, and for those of us who were in the audience, we were swept up in the storm of one of Singapore’s finest bands, and secretly wanting to be as good as them. – Brian.

mp3: B Quartet – A Dull Taste On My Tongue

27 Jul: Broken Social Scene @ Esplanade Concert Hall
Three to four guitars on stage, horn players come out, synthesizers going out of their mind, and is that a horn section coming out? How do they do it? How does a band have so many members and instruments on the same stage and yet, sound like they were each in the center of the universe? It remains a mystery, and is a beautiful reminder that music has no rules, no time to go unheard and it’s a hella fun to be playing with your friends. – Brian.

mp3: Broken Social Scene – Forced to Love

7 Aug: Belle & Sebastian @ Esplanade Concert Hall
I’d loved to have caught Belle & Sebastian about more than ten years ago during their Sinister tour, but I’d settle for this anytime, especially when they played that song which made me fall in love over and over with that album. Yes, “Judy and the Dream of Horses” came late into the set, but that’s where it belongs, that captivating surprise near the end that keeps you longing for more. – Dan.

mp3: Belle and Sebastian – Judy And The Dream Of Horses (Live at BBC)

17 Sep: Typewriter @ Home
What heart, soul and infectious energy Singaporean band Typewriter exuded throughout this pulsating set. Their debut album Indian Head Massage had been a long time in the waiting, so this launch had an emotionally charged and liberating dynamic that probably won’t be reproduced again, with the band soaking in every glorious moment. – Dan.

mp3: Typewriter – That Deepest Blue (Haramain Mix)

29 Sep: Sun Kil Moon @ Chamber at the Arts House
Attending Mark Kozelek’s intimate solo performance at the old parliament building in Singapore was akin to being caught in a convulsion of the music’s strange serene beauty. Mark played most of the new songs from the recent Admiral Fell Promises album, as well as reworking a few of the more memorable of the older Sun Kil Moon tunes (“Glenn Tipton” and “Heron Blue” were particularly lovely) – but the standout for me, and no doubt for other longtime Red House Painters fan, is the roiling rendition of “Void”. – Keith.

mp3: Sun Kil Moon – Carry Me Ohio

8 Oct Keeping It Peel @ POW
This was one of my favourite gigs because it’s slightly personal. Y’see, I play bass in Shelves, who closed the night at this John Peel memorial gig. It was also our debut. I remember the encouragement of our friends and peers, and the energy that went into rehearsal, performing in a makeshift band pit, playing hard, loud, and sometimes too fast. I remember my fellow band members, the jittery excitement, the nervous beers before (and after), and overall, I remember why I still do what I do. – Brian.

mp3: Shelves – One Live Baby
(Heh, we realized later that this was actually in 2009, but who’s keeping score aye?)

11 Nov: The Flaming Lips @ Marina Bay Sands
It was like part two of a dream come true to finally attend a Lips gig (part one being fulfilled at the Mercury Rev one some years back), and what a show this turned out to be. It wasn’t as if we didn’t expect confetti cannons or Wayne-in-giant-balloon sightings, but actually being there and sharing in the euphoria of the moment was quite an unbelievable experience. Nothing that night was too weird to be celebrated, except perhaps the most baffling omission of anything at all from The Soft Bulletin. – Dan.

mp3: The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize

11 Dec: The Observatory @ National Museum of Singapore
There are perhaps few better choices in the world other than The Observatory to compose an original score and provide the live musical accompaniment to a recent screening of A Page of Madness, Teinosuke Kinugasa’s haunting 1928 silent film. The controlled and yet improvisational nature of The Observatory’s 1½ hour-long performance created a disturbing ambience for the fractured narrative set in an insane asylum, the subtle instrumentation and electronics navigating the contours of an enigmatic film masterpiece whose visual poetry was well ahead of its time. – Keith.

mp3: The Observatory – Invisible Room

#305 the flaming lips – waitin’ for a superman (live)

i was busy compiling a flaming lips playlist for b when i suddenly remembered an old cd i loved very much. back in the 90s, i used to buy this uk magazine called select, which of course kept me updated on whether blur or oasis was winning the war, and what jarvis cocker really felt about michael jackson (ok, that was really nme and melody makerselect was usually better). the issues i looked forward to most were those packed with complimentary albums and my favorite was the xfm live sessions cd, one of the last few compilations bundled a year before the magazine’s inevitable demise along with britpop’s in the year 2000 (when we’re all fully grown).

and how sneaky of them to squeeze in a couple of american bands: guided by voices, sebadoh, and of course the flaming lips, whose contribution was “waiting for a superman”, the heart wrenching ballad from their then-newly released album the soft bulletin. their most memorable songs of this era often thrived on grand narratives of human battle (“fight test”) and progress (“race for the prize”), which fit best with the triumphant experience their live shows clearly aimed at creating. all this, however, would have been too sweeping, too overwhelming without the empathetic “waitin’ for a superman”, a song that strips away all pretense to wrestle sincerely with both hope and despair.

on the xfm live sessions version, the lips strip down the song even further by doing away with the distracting drums and leaving behind with greatest clarity the bare piano keys and every breath wayne coyne takes before he delivers each line. we’ve all been there before and we know he has too, and it’s the comforting knowledge of one more person knowing exactly how you feel that makes it that little bit easier to “hold on, the best you can“. – dan.

mp3: the flaming lips – waitin’ for a superman (live on xfm, 1999)

the flaming lips play in singapore for the first time at marina bay sands, together with the raveonettes. tickets go on sale 7 october on sistic. don’t miss it!

#209 the flaming lips – convinced of the hex

flaming lips

i first heard this song when it was performed live on the colbert report, following a hilarious interview with wayne coyne. in that short segment, coyne responded ever so respectfully to colbert’s faux right-wing worries about his music, assuming the role of visionary in speaking of his band’s ability to create hopeful, uplifting music. ironically, he proceeded to play this opener for their latest album embryonic, a song that i realized sounded even darker in its studio version. a far cry from the rousing and celebratory anthems the lips have come to be associated with, “convinced of the hex” is an ominous serving of voodoo garage funk, mixed in a muddled stew of psychedelic frenzy. what’s most surprising, however, isn’t how dark the material is, but how utterly catchy and even danceable it is in spite of its darkness. it’s something only the lips are capable of pulling off, this time with a bit more swagger with a thinly-veiled boast in the mantra-like refrain: that’s the difference between us. -dan.

mp3: the flaming lips – convinced of the hex

pop down to the official flaming lips page to get your copy of embryonic

#92 hospital ships – the shots i drank/ the flaming lips – the abandoned hospital ship

minus story‘s jordan geiger has an upcoming solo album called oh, ramona, recorded under his hospital ships moniker. that’s a story of its own, taken from the opening song off the flaming lips’ clouds taste metallic. “the abandoned hospital ship” opens as a familiarish wayne coyne ballad, but it doesn’t really hit your future head until it reaches guitars and drums kick in, surrounded by wails, chimes and fuzz in whichever order you wish. that sets a proper context for looking at hospital ships’ “the shot i drank”, a song that also stands out immediately with its instantly affecting pop melody. like the lips, however, the fun is really in whatever happens in between, the angelic sighs, busy percussions and layers of keys that make everything oh so complete.

mp3: hospital ships – the shots i drank

mp3: the flaming lips – the abandoned hospital ship

oh, ramona will be released on graveface records, and is available now for pre-order. get it!