Monday, May 2, 2011

The Flaming Lips - Gummy Song Skull

I feel the need to preface this review by declaring my love for Wayne Coyne.

I’d love to meet him-I did once, albeit very briefly in the mid-80’s after a show featuring the original trio-but I’m afraid that any lengthy dialogue would be exhausting as the man is a total workaholic and (I’m guessing) a bit of a micro-manager about things.

It is these characteristics that enable him to keep coming up with crazy ideas, and for some unbelievable reason, people coddle him to the point of allowing those crazy ideas become a reality.

Sometimes they work and they are brilliant (Zaireeka).

Sometimes they’re retarded (Christmas On Mars, the film, not the soundtrack which is pretty awesome).

The Gummy Song Skull falls on the latter side, and the price for the piece turns it into an unaffordable bit of temporary art that will surely last as long as a Stretch Armstrong doll, filled with edible liquid.

Seriously: I want to see pictures of how this thing has held up in five years.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome looking and my immediate reaction was to see if I could shell out a hundred-fifty clams to get one for myself. Then I realized that the asking price for this would be one night in a Residence Inn for our family vacation this summer.

So what’s a working man to do? Drop a Bennie-and-a-half to support Wayne Coyne’s artistic endeavor that will eventually decompose or to buy a bit of joy for my kids as they flail around in an overly chlorinated pool?

I’m choosing the latter.

And I’m choosing it on the merits of what you get when you stick your digits inside that fake vagina entrance to retrieve the USB drive snuggled within the gummy head.

Having heard the four songs within the Gummy Song Skull, I can tell you that Coyne and company spent an enormous amount of time on this project, but about a half-hour on the actual songs that come with it. They are all reminiscent of what seems to be a typical rehearsal, a skeletal fragment of the beginnings of Flaming Lips songs that would eventually be discarded or used to complete the coherent vision of real songs still being developed.

The four tracks squeak and bark with distortion, electronic blips, and intentional overloads. Kliph gets a good beat occasionally while Wayne barks and Drozd tackles the rest of the instrumentation.

It’s fuckery, and an expensive one at that. And while I’m not suggesting the asking price is fair when you add up the time and cost of materials needed to even get this project off the ground, I still think it’s fair to ask that the band at least give us material that is worth the asking price.

It isn’t, and this whole extravagance in packaging isn’t even justifiable if it won’t even be in the market long enough if you wanted to sell it to a collector later on.

Here’s a better idea: wire me $150 and I let you sleep on the hideaway couch at a Residence Inn with my family. I’ll throw in a bag of Haribo Gummy Bears (the good kind, and a lot better tasting than the pot flavored gummy that the Lips are apparently now creating for the next batch of Gummy Song Skulls) and I’ll let you join me by the pool while I sing “Everything’s Exploding” while underwater.

Trust me, it will be more entertaining than anything found on this woefully pretentious item that, literally, has no lasting value in the world of music.

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