Music: The Flaming Lips - The Terror

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Released 1 April 2013


"We want, or wanted, to believe that without love we would disappear, that love, somehow, would save us that, yeah, if we have love, give love and know love, we are truly alive and if there is no love, there would be no life. The Terror is, we know now, that even without love, life goes on... we just go on... there is no mercy killing." - Wayne Coyne, press release for The Terror

 

The brilliant thing about art is that it gives a snapshot of the heart of the artist. It shows us slice of their soul, eternally timestamped. To the artist, art is very much a therapeutic process. As if all of the personal demons can be round up and imprisoned onto the canvas. Sometimes, it seems that the greater the turmoil, the greater and more prolific the art. Vincent Van Gogh produced some of his most sterling work in the torturous later years of his life. Mark Everett of Eels was not in the brightest of places when he produced his emotionally deep Electro-Shock Blues, having recently suffered more than one personal tragedy. It appears that Wayne Coyne and Stephen Drozd of The Flaming Lips are no exception to this rule, having produced what is arguably their darkest effort in recent years while both reeling from their own personal setbacks.

Is a life without love no life at all? Coyne does not simply ask this, but outright states that not only does life go on, it painfully transpires. This is The Terror. Not the end of life as we know it but a horrific, dire existence that can only be tolerated at best. An existence that we, when in grip of love, fear. We convince ourselves that the loveless life is not like that, in fact, it does not exist. All that prevails is love, and without love there is nothing. This is the world we convince ourselves so we do not have to consider the dark truth.

The Terror offers a rich soundscape, feeling like a natural continuation to the prolific experimentation in music and art that Coyne and his friends have been conducting in recent years. It is more polished and accessible than The Flaming Lips with Neon Indian, yet wilder in ambition than Embryonic or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. This is not an instant hit. In fact the most pop friendly song is not part of the official tracklist, but the iTunes bonus track "Sun Blows Up Today". This record is a journey, a slow burn of progressive jams to be experienced as a whole. It is no coincidence that another of the iTunes bonus tracks is the entire nine track album presented as a single sound file.

Considerably more subdued than recent efforts, The Terror presents us with one of the most compelling releases from The Flaming Lips to date. This will not be reflected in the charts, but it is not a terrible way to mark thirty years of such an eccentric band's existence. Let us hope the next outing is under brighter circumstances.

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This page contains a single entry by Lewis Adams published on April 18, 2013 12:35 AM.

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