Brian Eno – Another Green World – Round 6: Nick’s choice

Knowing that Rob has never knowingly listened to Eno, and being more than a little interested in the pioneering producer (we share a birthday in addition to many attitudes regarding music, and as well as many of his records I also have a number of his iPhone generative music apps, and own a set of Oblique Strategy cards), I was always going to choose one of his records to play at Devon record Club, and it was pretty much always going to be this one (as it’s my favourite). The question was only ever when. Rob’s own house, given that he’s never heard Eno before, seemed to be the obvious choice. So there we are.

I first heard Another Green World while studying at university, and I’ve owned three copies over the years since; that original CD issue, plus the new remaster from about six years ago, and also a 12” LP copy, which I keep framed on a wall. Although me saying of a record “that’s one of my favourite records ever” has become something of a comedy catch-phrase at Devon Record Club, in the case of Another Green World it is absolutely true: I don’t know what the other 49 would be, specifically, but if I was forced to take 50 record with me to a desert island or suchlike, this one is coming with me.

Mythologically, Another Green World bridges the gap between Eno’s early glam rock solo records, like Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), and his later ambient albums, like Music For Airports. In truth, though, Eno actually recorded his first fully ambient record, Discreet Music, before he recorded Another Green World (both came out in 1975, Another Green World in September and Discreet Music in November), meaning that actuality is, as usual, more complex and less linear than the stories we think of as being history. I’ve just read Geeta Dayal’s excellent 33 1/3 book on Another Green World, and she recounts the relationship between the two records, and 1977’s Before And After Science, which is often thought of as a precursor to Another Green World, expertly.

Literally, though, Another Green World does bridge the gap between rock and ambient, being made up of five vocal tracks and nine instrumental ones, the two types of song sequenced relatively evenly across the course of the album (unlike, say, Bowie’s Heroes or Low, which both group the ambient tracks together on side two).

It starts judderingly, with the quasi-funky motions (courtesy in part due to Phil Collins, who may be an odious twat, but who sure can play the drums) and elongated, timeless textures of Sky Saw, and the album slowly becomes more and more gentle from thereon in. The lyrics, when they’re present, mean nothing, and are sung with Eno’s typical flat intonation; Another Green World is almost entirely about the textures, the motions, the architectures: I find the slow, simple chord progressions of and layered sonic materials of The Big Ship almost unbearably moving.

Most of the time I can’t discern guitars from synthesizers from pianos from “electric elements” from “unnatural sounds” from “organ and tape” from “treated rhythm generator” (all of which and more are listed in the sleeve as being played), but the individual elements are not the point here; Another Green World’s genius is in how the components combine, interact, and alter each other through context. Tellingly I have never, as far as I can remember, listened to Another Green World on headphones; I always play it in full, in order, via speakers, whether I’m busy being occupied with other things or trying to concentrate on the album alone.

Interestingly I learnt from Geeta’s book that Another Green World was recorded in a rush, under pressure, with no songs (save I’ll Come Running) prepared in advance, and largely took shape in post-production, as it were, with Eno editing together disparate performances and ideas in a similar manner to Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way and Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden, another two of my favourite records ever.

Tom listened: I only own two Brian Eno records – Here Come the Warm Jets and Music For Airports – and they are so different that it is difficult to believe that they have been made by the same artist. Another Green World has been one of my ‘most wanted’ for a long time now but, as a vinyl junkie, my searching has always ended in disappointment. One of the aspects of this record that I found most fascinating (other than the fact that it is totally and utterly marvelous) is that it enables the listener to see the route from Eno’s initial ‘glam punk’ eclecticism to his late 70s minimalist ambient stuff. Rob and I were amazed by the production on this record; to think that this album was released at a time when Mud, The Sweet, The Nolan Sisters, The Bay City Rollers, Brotherhood of Man et al were producing such drivel and yet 35 years on, it sounds as though it could have been released yesterday. An essential record, methinks by one of rock music’s few geniuses.

Rob listened: PiL, The Smiths, Joy Division, The Fall. They got me aged 15 and told me, directly or otherwise, that if it was pre-1976 and it wasn’t the Velvet Underground or the Stooges, then I shouldn’t be listening to it. I obeyed, and even this far down the line I reckon the artists who have genuinely breached that particular line in the sand are countable on one hand (Beefheart, Dylan, Nick Drake, Stevie Wonder… erm… I own ‘Solid Air’ and ‘Astral Weeks’?). If I have to go back and get acquainted with Eno, who’s going to listen to that Archers of Loaf b-sides compilation?

Still, ‘Another Green World’ was full of very pleasant surprises. I expected floating ambience, but instead got sharp, crisp, clever electronic rock music that sounded both timeless and clearly directly influential on much of the stuff we’ve been listening to since its release. I’d buy it, but there’s a Death By Milkfloat double live album out next week.

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The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms – Round 6: Tom’s Choice

Every so often something comes along that opens up a whole new set of listening possibilities, revealing a trove of music that had, up to that point, remained hidden or obscured. In the past John Peel, The Melody Maker and, dare I say it, Pitchforkmedia (as it was then) have all had a significant impact on my musical horizons and have introduced me to countless recording artists: some good, some bad and some downright ugly…but mostly good. At roughly the turn of the millennium, I purchased The Spin Alternative Record Guide and, for a while, this became my bible. I liked the way it was so confidently written even if, at times, it seemed to be deliberately willful. I liked that it wasn’t afraid to give ’10’s in its reviews. And I particularly liked the fact that it was crammed full of albums, even artists, that I hadn’t heard of before. My appetite was well and truly whetted and I scoured the local – and not so local – record shops looking for some of those lost jigsaw pieces. I picked up some great records in this time: Wild Gift by X, The Roches’ first album, some Pere Ubu classics, The Mekons’ Rock ‘n Roll, Compilation by The Clean, DB’s Stands for Decibels, most of Elvis Costello’s early records. It was an exciting time. I also managed to find Crazy Rhythms by The Feelies.

Crazy Rhythms is a great record, of its time but still fresh today. It’s one of those records which heralds a new beginning, using what has come before it but moulding it into new sounds and shapes. So, whilst echoes of The Modern Lovers, The VU, Can and Talking Heads can be heard loud and clear throughout this album, the band have a vision that is very much its own and are just using elements of their influences’ music to realise it. Each song is a single groove, no verse-chorus-verse predictability here, and structurally they remind me most of miniature versions of Halleluwah, Can’s epic groove fest. But where as Halleluwah is a sprawling, primal monster, The Feelies’ efforts are tight and spiky.

The album kicks off with a minute of barely audible percussion (the studio equivalent of the sound of a stalactite dripping onto the floor of a cave) that is joined, from way off in the distance, by a buzzing electric guitar that grows and grows and grows so that by the time the beat kicks in, the listener surely has no idea what is coming next. It is as thrilling a start to an album as any (hell, Nick had declared before the first song was out that he was going to buy the record!) and a great statement of intent. If it still sounds amazing in 2011, imagine how it must have felt to have chanced upon this album back in 1980! The Boy With Perpetual Nervousness (the album’s opener) sets the tone for the record, but its peaks are equalled, if not surpassed, by what comes later: Loveless Love, Moscow Nights, Crazy Rhythms itself, all blinding tracks that swell from quiet beginnings to huge, unpredictable grooves. Both Rob and Nick commented on the speed of the playing (fast!) and the unusual structures of the songs.

The Feelies took six years to produce the follow up album; I don’t own it and I don’t feel I need to. Crazy Rhythms is nigh on perfect!

PS…if the person who I lent my copy of the Spin book still has it and is reading this…can I have it back!

PPS…DRC Coincidence of The Fortnight The Spin Alternative Record Guide has their top 100 alternative albums listed. In the list Crazy Rhythms comes in at number 49, Another Green World at number 50. It’s nice to know that my choice was slightly better than Nick’s!

Rob listened: Another thoroughly pleasant shock. Expected this to sound like They Might Be Giants, based only on the observations that they look EXACTLY LIKE THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS. Instead it’s like a thriving cross between Bow Wow Wow, Talking Heads and Neu!. That’s pretty good in my book. Loved the sheer speed of it – boy these guys played fast – and loved the utter disrespect for song structure, replacing verse-chorus-verse with halfverse-extended groove-halfdifferentverse. I confess that once I’d got my head around the approach, I found the second side a little more repetitive, but that would probably open up with repeated listens. As this was released in 1980 it can nestle safely on my shopping list.

Nick listened: As insinuated in Tom’s post, I got along VERY well with this. I’ve only very vaguely even heard of The Feelies, and had no idea what they might sound like. I think I expected something jokey and New Wave, based on the cover (and the fact that Weezer pretty shamelessly ripped it off) and the year of release; to actually be confronted by a load of elongated, elastic, jittery grooves, more in common with CAN than Elvis Costello, was delicious. Like Rob I loved the speed of it too; I remember being told that it was harder to play slow than to play fast, especially when it comes to drums, but I’m glad that The Feelies didn’t feel the need to try and prove that. Something about it reminded me of really early Byrds, too; the energy and pace of stuff like Feel A Whole Lot Better, perhaps. I’ll be buying this when I get back from holiday in June and have some disposable income again.

Gravediggaz – ‘Niggamortis’ – Round 6: Rob’s choice

My brother took care of the hip-hop in our house which gave me sporadic access to some amazing music but leaves me with a pretty superficial and now at least 15 years out of date exposure. I still clutch several favourites dearly and follow some names when I can.

Gravediggaz combine the talents of RZA from Wu Tang Clan, Frukwan and Prince Paul from Stetsasonic and Poetic, an unattached New York rapper who has since passed away. His untimely death adds yet further frisson to ‘Niggamortis’, released in 1994, an album about death and horror in which he plays The Grym Reaper, alongside The Undertaker, The Gate Keeper and the RZArector.

It’s notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it sounds great. Spooky and atmospheric but always banging, the slasher-movie sound effects are never allowed to overwhelm the cracking beats.

Secondly, it’s a good concept brilliantly realised. Branded ‘Horrorcore’ on release, there’s very little that’s gratuitous in here apart from some of the more lurid imagery. Instead ‘Niggamortis’ is firmly in the George A Romero school. Gravediggaz portray the abandoned urban underclass as ‘the mental dead’ and cast them in a wild zombie flick, taking the opportunity to lay on the gore, but never at the expense of the underlying message of dead-life in the urban wasteland.

Frukwan explained that the group was “digging graves of the mentally dead, and it stood for resurrecting the mentally dead from their state of unawareness and ignorance”. It’s a bleak but blackly funny album and ultimately, I think, empowering.

It’s interesting to listen back to ‘Niggamortis’ at a time when Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All are gaining such attention/notoriety. Both outfits sounds pretty amazing at their best, but whilst the Gravediggaz were certainly a little shocking at the time, they seem less so now, and their schlock horror approach was always intended to drive the message home. You can’t honestly say the same for OFWGKTA at this stage.

Finally, let’s say hats off to Poetic. his performance as the Grym Reaper is daringly unhinged and always worth revisiting. In several verses he sounds like Captain Beefheart’s younger brother (which hopefully will appeal to Tom) and I think the good Captain would have approved. Here’s hoping they’re duetting together somewhere up there or, if you take the Gravediggaz line, somewhere 6 Feet Under.

Tom Listened: My brother liked The Rockingbirds! He didn’t cater to my hip hop needs and I have held a dim and admittedly prejudicial view of the genre ever since I listened to Straight Outa Compton by NWA – a nasty and aggressive record that was being regarded as a joke (and a particularly tasteless one at that) by my listening partners. Straight Outa Compton left such a lingering aftertaste that I have pretty much dismissed hip hop ever since. Listening to Niggamortis (the name doesn’t really do it for me), opened my eyes a little. I was still squinting, but through the slits I recognised a sound that was more complex, musical and interesting than I was expecting. I found the lyrics hard to take and the vocal delivery, whilst no doubt accomplished, was too ‘in your face’ for my tastes (I didn’t really get the Beefheart thing) but this album has made me think about my dismissive attitude and I have subsequently purchased Nation of Millions and Fear of a Black Planet (although I have yet to listen to them). I am glad Rob subjected me to this – DRC, not only there for the pleasant things in life!

Nick listened: I’ve gone through so many phases with hip hop; loving De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest at 11 years old, Public Enemy and Wu-Tang at 17, Outkast and Missy at 24, dabbling in Jay-Z and Nas’ power struggles and Def Jux’s aesthetic along the way, loving Kanye’s second LP, hating his latest, and basically feeling divorced from the genre (if you can call it a genre anymore; like ‘rock’ it’s now so big that the term is pretty much meaningless) for the last 5 years or so. Partly it’s because I’ve got less and less interest in the lyrics of new music as I get older, and partly it’s because I suspect my tastes are ossifying and I’m feeling less compulsion to keep up with what’s cutting edge or popular. I also think mixtape and download culture has moved hip hop away from the way I consume music, too; the genre has evolved its methods of production and distribution and I’ve stayed still. I’ve never knowingly listened to Lil Wayne. I’ve barely listened to Odd Future.

Anyway, enough about me. In 1997 or so the idea of Prince Paul and The RZA making an album together was right up my street, but for some reason I never got around to buying Niggamortis, even though I always meant to. Maybe it was the gothic / horror imagery? It took me until my 20s to appreciate George A Romero, after all. Listening to it finally at DRC I thoroughly enjoyed the sound of it, especially the way I could pick certain loops or beats out as being RZA-like or Prince-Paul-like, and I could totally embrace the lyrics being analogies for the way that black underclasses are made to feel by society (particularly poignant having been watching a lot of The Wire lately), but I didn’t really feel it, if that makes any sense? Maybe it was discussing it while we were listening to it that was the problem, so that I couldn’t really take in the words. Maybe hip hop just needs longer to soak into my consciousness these days. I think I’ll ask Rob if I can borrow it. I think I’ll revisit 36 Chambers and those Ghostface solo albums.

And the rapper who guests on that Ghostface song whose name I couldn’t remember? Jadakiss! Just came back to me.

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo – Round 5: Tom’s Choice

In typical teacher fashion I set my charges a homework and then neglect to do it myself! A vinyl copy of my new purchase coupled with a week in a caravan in North Wales has not been conducive to completing the required six listens since the meeting (I have probably managed about four) but I have begun to grow into the record and it has started to reveal its secrets with each subsequent listen. My relationship with Kurt Vile’s latest album is now at the stage where I know the songs well enough to recognise the occasional motif/melody/riff, have a sense of the running order of the songs (so that I can anticipate the sound of the next song before it appears) but I am still a long way from making sense of the record as a whole. To me, this sounds like an exciting and interesting album, more enticing, perhaps, than his last release (2009’s Childish Prodigy). It has a breadth of style that the previous album lacked and a poppier side to Vile’s songwriting is revealed in songs like ‘Baby’s Arms’ and ‘Runner Ups’. Vile’s voice is instantly recognisable and at times reminds me of an authentic version of Bobby Gillespie’s somewhat affected Southern drawl. It is also pivotal. Replace his singing with a more anonymous vocal and the effect of the album would be very different – there is no doubt that Smoke Ring For My Halo (the title kind of gives it away) needs to be delivered by a voice that has lived the songs. In my mind, no matter how pretty the tune – and some of them are surprisingly pretty – Beiber would struggle to pull off the cover version! My current thinking is that this album could be special but could just as easily fade away into the background of my collection.

My reasons for setting the condition of bringing a ‘first-listen’ album to this meeting centre on my frequent inability to make accurate judgments of a record’s quality on first listen, something that the format of the club requires on (often) two listens a session. I am amazed at how difficult I still find this, having been through the process thousands (if not tens of thousands) of times. So I thought it would be interesting to document the process of getting to know an album from scratch to see how the listener’s relationship with the album develops with familiarity. During the meeting itself I felt a little disappointed with my choice. Bill Callahan’s Apocalypse sounded to me to be one of his very best (and that’s saying something) and Zaireeka was more like a religious experience than a record! So poor old Kurt Vile never really stood much of a chance; I truly believe nothing can measure up to the sound of Zaireeka and Apocalypse’s twists and turns made Smoke Ring For My Halo seem a little linear and predictable. But maybe the comparison is unfair, perhaps a little like comparing Citizen Kane to Inception 3D or something (note, I am not saying that SRFMH is the musical equivalent of Citizen Kane). However, as I have subsequently listened to SRFMH, the gap has closed, Zaireeka’s sonic assault has faded (although I am not sure the neighbours would necessarily agree) and Kurt Vile’s songs have revealed a complexity and warmth that was not evident to me on first listen. God knows how the professional reviewers ever reach a decision when having to award stars to records!

I am going to buy Apocalypse, I am going to carry on listening to SRFMH and I will return to update this post when I have got to know both albums properly*.

* Zaireeka is obviously going to have to wait.

Nick listened: I feel amazingly sorry for Kurt Vile, because I can remember almost nothing about this record given what followed at this session: Zaireeka blew everything else out of the water, and while I’ve listened to the Callahan a few times since, I’ve had neither chance nor inclination to revisit this. I was expecting it to be more gnarly, more noisy, but instead can only recall it being pleasant if nondescript alt.country. Sorry Tom, sorry Kurt!

Bill Callahan – Apocalypse! – Round 5: Nick’s choice

I bought this especially for DRC while I was in London the day before the meeting at which it was to be played. Finding a record shop in Covent Garden proved more problematic than it used to, as they’ve seemingly all been replaced with Fred Perry vendors. I was wearing a Fred Perry at the time and felt this was a bitter irony directed personally at me. Apocalypse! was still shrink-wrapped when I arrived at Tom’s house, as per instructions to bring something unplayed. I’d not heard a note, though I had read a couple of things which pointed out longer songs and looser structures than Callahan had used before.

I only started listening to Callahan once he started using his own name; I’ve heard, to my knowledge, no Smog records at all. I quite like Woke On A Whaleheart, but I adored Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle, so I was looking forward to Apocalypse.

Tom has asked that we only write these pieces after six listens; I’m on two plays (DRC and one other), but frankly if I wait for six it’ll never get done, and anyway, Zaireeka really strafed everything else played or discussed last Thursday into tiny little bits. And what’s DRC without some rule-breaking?

So, Apocalypse! is looser, and the songs are longer, Callahan’s voice is still deep and rich and dry and wry and, to my ears and brain, more than a little sardonic. I had an interesting twitter chat the other day with someone from The Quietus and someone from NME about whether the song America (and specifically its lyrics) is good or bad, or funny, or ironic, or heartfelt. We concluded that it is good, and funny, and ironic, and heartfelt, all at the same time.

I am struck for some reason, and I’m not sure why, having played them both back-to-back at the weekend, that Apocalypse! is “about” guitar, both texture and melody, in the same way that …Eagle is “about” drums, both dynamics and rhythms. I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly both times I’ve played it, and I look forward to playing it more – it feels very much like a grower, although the textures, instrumental variations, and words are appreciable from the off. But I need to write this now, because it’s hanging over me like a piece of homework and I need to blitz it out so I can get onto my next thing I want to write.

Sorry Tom!

Tom Listened: This was brilliant and I am going to buy it. On vinyl. So there.

More later…..

(Footnote: Both the Kurt Vile album and this had at least one song that had a ‘Van Morrison when he was good’ vibe going on. Strange as he has drifted out of fashion in recent times – when I started getting interested in alternative music, back in the late eighties, most issues of Melody Maker would mention Astral Weeks at some point or other. Thought it was worth mentioning – possibly another DRC weird coincidence?).

The Flaming Lips – ‘Zaireeka’ – Round 5: Rob’s Choice

When Tom chose ‘albums you’ve never listened to before’ as this week’s theme, there was only one choice for me. This is the album that Devon Record Club was made for.

I bought ‘Zaireeka’ when it came out in 1997. It’s taken 14 years for me to get enough like-minded individuals together to actually play it. ‘Zaireeka’, you see, is not a normal album.

You know all this already, and if you don’t i’m not going to go into great detail. If you’re really interested you should buy Mark Richardson’s excellent book on the subject. Mark was good enough to tweet into our little listening party which really helped to create the sense of event which ‘Zaireeka’ was conceived to deliver.

The album comes on 4 cds, all of which must be played at the same time. That’s difficult, maybe impossible, to achieve with fewer that 3 people, which immediately breaks out of the album as solitary experience. You have to have friends round to listen with you or else you simply can’t listen. Even tougher, you have to stop the thing and restart after each track. As Nick enjoyed explaining to us, and as Mark pointed out from across the Atlantic, CD players spin at 5000rpm, so they are all working at very slightly different speeds. The difference is undetectable when listening to one song on one player, but leave four blaring at the same time and they’ll surely drift apart over the course of a full album, leaving you with total cacophony by the time the final track rolls around.

So, not only did I have to bring the CD, I also had to bring 3 CD players to make playback possible. Cue ten minutes of frantic wiring, plugging, positioning and generally scurrying around like fat kids in a sweet shop and we were ready to go.

I expected to be disappointed, or at least not to be surprised. I guess I expected to hear a bunch of slightly woozy, off-kilter Flaming Lips songs. That would have been pretty good for me. We got so much more.

It’s not an easy experience to describe, and again, that speaks to what a wonderful success the whole enterprise is. You just have to be there. Far from just a crazy way to present the album the Lips wrote between ‘Clouds Taste Metallic’ and ‘The Soft Bulletin’, ‘Zaireeka’ is the real deal: something completely other. Sonically, conceptually and intellectually on a totally different plane from anything i’ve been amidst before or since.

The sound rises and falls, grows and dies, whirls around you. It’s tough to imagine what it’s like to be in the middle of it and now i’m out of it, it’s tough to recall. So much more intense and physically affecting than I could have anticipated, I was taken totally by surprise by the sheer intensity of it. At times the volume of sound is quite shaking and the running around we found ourselves doing, trying and usually failing to identify which speakers were threatening to bring the walls crashing in so we could turn them down, just raised the sense of performance.

The only real comparison I can make it with being in the middle of a classical concert performance, with sounds coming from all around you in overwhelming quantity. It’s unlike anything you’ll have heard before, and totally amazing and joyously surprising for that very reason.

In the middle are what sounded like pretty decent, if out there, Flaming Lips songs. They struggled to get the recording sessions going until they realised that they had to record for the 4 channel format rather than just disassemble existing songs to fit. And boy did they open up a can of sonic whup-ass. Never knowingly under-cooked they shot for the moon here and ended up somewhere west of Jupiter.

That’s enough hyperbole from me. I could go on and on. I won’t. Find someone who has the album and organise to play it with them. They’ll thank you and you’ll thank me.

Other notes:

Marge, our dog, was with us. I’ve never seen her react to music before. At times she sat in the middle of the set up looking urgently from speaker to speaker following the currents around the room. And that was before the dogs starting barking…

Think about what an achievement it is to conceive of a record that can only work as a live performance, which will be different every time you hear it and which demands you get together with other people just to begin to play it. Then imagine that the band who conceived it went ahead and made it 100 times better than it needed to be.

We agreed, as we talked, that The Flaming Lips are a much better live experience (perhaps the best) than they are an album band. ‘Zaireeka’ destroys that distinction. Hail them, laud them, carry them shoulder high.

Nick listened: I had announced, in Rob’s car on the way to Tom’s house, my intention to play ‘Zaireeka’ next time I hosted Devon Record Club, as I have a lot of stereos and had just read Mark Richardson’s book, which he sent me a copy of because he liked the sound of our little club, and it seemed like the perfect record for an arrangement like ours. Rob kept magnificently schtum about what was in his bag.

I was delighted that Rob had brought it though, despite him scuppering my plans, because ‘Zaireeka’ is a remarkable thing. Unlike Rob or Tom I’ve actually heard it before; a couple of times at university, when my housemates and I pointed each bedroom-stereo towards the landing, and once at home, with Emma, a similar array of motley sound-emitting-devices scattered about my parents’ home and us brandishing two remote controls each… I’ve also heard a stereo mixdown of it a couple of times, burnt to CD and given to me by a friend who is a ravenous Flaming Lips fan (the mixdown completely misses the point). So I knew what to expect, even though you can’t expect anythign with this record.

I’ve already written some of my thoughts on our listen to ‘Zaireeka’ as part of last week’s #musicdiaryproject, so I wont go into it too much more here, except to say that it really is an extraordinary, overwhelming, physical experience. I think part of my fascination with fidelity is down to trying to achieve that sense of being consumed by music that ‘Zaireeka’ gives you, that tidal wave of sound that engulfs you and your collaborators in listening from all sides. As Rob suggested, I’m not bothered by The Flaming Lips on record, as much as I’ve been smashed into emotional pieces by them live, but ‘Zaireeka’, though one can only ever hear it properly once in a blue moon, is really something else.

Tom Listened: I became aware of Zaireeka when it was released but as I recall, the reviews at the time focused mainly on the gimmick rather than the effect…although I may be wrong. Whatever, as someone who never really got The Flaming Lips on record, I had always considered Zaireeka as something I could quite happily do without. It turns out I was right to think this in as much as I can now never listen to any of my other albums and feel fully satisfied! Listening to Zaireeka is the aural equivalent of opening Pandora’s box and for the first time in a long time I was blown away by a musical experience. It had nothing to do with the songs. On flat, tinny, single CD format I am not sure I would be bothered to listen again – I just don’t connect with Wayne Coyne’s whimsical flotsam. It was all to do with the sound, which is just phenomenal and, at times, I truly felt as though I could see the eruptions of noise as they ejaculated a torrent of sound from nowhere in much the same way as a lava lake might operate.

To sum up, it seems appropriate to draw a comparison between Zaireeka and heroin – the pleasure it brings may be intense but  may make you feel that all that came before is a pale imitation.

For the record, I have never taken heroin.