Last revised April 18, 2014
In addition to The Flaming Lips releasing a new “single disk reduction” of their 24-hour song “7 Skies H3″ on vinyl for Record Store Day, the same edit “will be on CD too… soon,” says Lips’ longtime “visualist” George Salisbury. The Record Store Day release is a “regular-weight clear vinyl twelve inch” and includes a digital download card. That same day The Flaming Lips are also releasing a split 7″ with DEVO in memory of Bob 2 and a reprint of their classic “I drank blood with God” T-shirt designed by Wayne Coyne. For more details on Record Store Day, The Future Heart release guide is here, an events guide is here, and a preview of Good Records’ RSD bash (including Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Chainsaw Kittens frontman Tyson Meade full LP live cover of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) is here. Visit scenesc.com to enter to win a vinyl test pressing of “7 Skies H3.”
Members of the band first discussed plans of issuing an abbreviated “7 Skies H3″ at The Terror release party on April 3, 2013. Pitchfork reported an 80 minute edit was in the works shortly after that, and Wayne Coyne updated Alternative Press on the status of the project last December in a video interview recorded at Grimey’s in Nashville during his first Record Store Tour:
“We made 17 of those [2011 skulls containing "7 Skies H3"] but that music is – a lot of people really, they want to hear bits of the music but it’s quite a commitment. So Dave Fridmann and his son have engineered a couple of times this 24 hour song down to three albums, two albums and a one album version…I’m going to listen to all those and see if maybe we would release something that takes the 24 hours, sticks it on something manageable – like a couple of records – and maybe we’d release that. Sounds like it could be really fun. And when I go back and re-visit that music I think fans would really love it.”
On February 24, 2014 Flaming Lips manager Scott Booker shared a picture of the test pressing he was listening to on facebook. The following day the band shared the photo on their facebook and twitter (above), confirming the April 19th release date. The picture verified Warner Brothers as the label issuing it and showed the test pressing label listing a quantity as “35 PCS,” leading some fans to speculate all 24 hours of the song will be released in a 35-LP box set. In fact, it is a 53 minute “distillation across 10 tracks,” edited specifically for the vinyl issue’s limited edition 7,500 copies (the 35 perhaps referred to 35 copies of the test pressing). This new version is credited as a “2014 extraction and reduction by Mike Fridmann, Wayne and Kliph” and was mastered by the latter and engineered by Dave Fridmann and Michael Ivins. Packaged in a single-pocket jacke, the album art was inspired by moiré patterns and is credited to George Salisbury and “Wayne Coyne vs Shelby Stong.”
Wayne explained on April 14: “This is a condensed version which captures the essence of the musical pieces perhaps kind of like the way a time lapse video captures a long evening and night of watching theAurora Borealis … It was suggested by Dave Fridmann’s ( our producer) son Mikey ( he is also a producer)who was with us while we were recording it and is also the only person who has experienced , 5 or 6 times,7SkiesH3 in its entirety .One of the longest segments of 7SkiesH3 is a piece called Metamorphosis that in its original form lasts for over 7 hours.. here on the vinyl it is only 9 minutes but it made up of various edits and highlights of the original mega-piece. The Record Store Day release is on Silver vinyl and is packaged in the design above which is a painting by @stong and has been fucked with by George!! Yesssss!!!! Love Love Love to all the cool record stores!!!”
“7 Skies H3″ was unsuccessfully attempted as an iTunes release in 2011. “We’re working out a deal with iTunes,” Wayne told knoxville.com before its skull release. “You can see how insane we’ve gotten when we start thinking, ‘We’re gonna call iTunes and put a 24-hour song on their server.’ But they’ve since said, ‘This is insane, but let’s see if we can do it.’ It shows that there’s another world of possibility out there and iTunes is into that. They’re into this proof that what you previously thought was unthinkable or insane is possible.” It was later revealed iTunes was unable to meet the song’s large demands, leading The Flaming Lips to create flaminglipstwentyfourhoursong.com to stream the song.
Read Wayne’s commentary on “7 Skies H3″ from circa its Halloween 2011 release below:
“We are insane. I know. It’s starts off in fun. It’s like a family vacation, ‘It’ll be fun!’ And then we get there and it’s, ‘Why do we do these things?’…It’s uncanny to think about it. If we start mixing at one o’clock in the morning tonight, we’ll be mixing until one o’clock in the morning the next night. It’s ridiculous.”
-Wayne Coyne, to knoxville.com
“This idea of being self-indulgent and excessive is wonderful for music.”
-Wayne Coyne, to Citizen Times
“We have another mega skull…we are going to do one for Halloween, though. I can’t speak to that just yet, but that will be completely tied together, this idea of death and I’m singing as if I’m already dead. And [I'm] hoping I can make it happen by Halloween. We did this with the “Two Blobs Fucking” thing that came out on Valentine’s Day. I want to hit these Flaming Lips-specific holidays. You know, we do Christmas, we do Halloween.”
-Wayne Coyne, September 13, 2011 to Rolling Stone
“It has a very strange title. It’s like when a scientist discovers a black hole… It’s called ’7SkiesH3.’”
-Wayne Coyne, October 26, 2011 to blog.omusicawards.com
“It’s about — I’m not at liberty to say actually who it’s about — but it’s about a guy whose girlfriend has committed suicide… very sad, long, sound poem, about this process that this guy is going through in mourning and in remembering and in trying to fall out of love with this person he was in love with. So it’s intense. It’s not like the 6-hour song, which is very playful. This one is powerful and sad and weird and it’s disturbing and it’s abstract. It’s long [laughs].”
-Wayne Coyne, October 26th to blog.omusicawards.com
“7 Skies H3”, (or, as it will probably forever be known, “The 24 Hour Song”, is not so much a song….it is more a sound odyssey. The title “7 Skies H3” comes from an iPhone app that Steven had initially played the very haunting melody of (what we will refer to as) the main theme with. I believe he changed it eventually to another similar sound, but “7 Skies H3” was what I had written down the first time hearing it. I thought “7 Skies H3” sounded like the name of a drug or the scientific equation of a newly discovered galaxy. This cool title and its mournful sound exploded in my mind and, as occasionally happens when conceptualizing, I could see the whole universe in an instant.
“7 Skies H3” is based on the concept of an intense, romantic love tragically left suspended at the height of its lust and power by the suicide of the young woman. It is a retreat into the nether world of loss….it is a rehab holding station designed not to comfort, but to simply accompany the mind devastated by grief. It is long and weird and, like I said earlier, it is a sound odyssey and is perhaps, as some have suggested, our deepest voyage yet.
It begins with a piece that resembles a structured song….but it is a long song that goes for about 25 minutes. It has 10 verses, but we really get the feeling that it goes on indefinitely. There is a repeated line at the end of each verse which is the punishing reason the song exists – the line, “and I can’t shut off my head” is probably one of the worst afflictions human minds can suffer (it is, for sure, a rung below the highest worst “physical pain” that we can’t shut off)…. and the 24 hours, though it is long for a single piece of music, is really only one day…. some minds are not able to shut themselves off for years and years..
The structured beginning tells us that we are settling in and is setting us up for something like a drift…..and once the drift starts, it is relentless. “Piece No. 1”, which we will give the subtitle “And Now That You’re Not Here”, dis- solves into a calliope trance with major and minor celestial sections. It is a forever-building piece of non-performance music that goes for a little over an hour, segueing with some kind of radiation wind into a stretched slow- motion, grinding version of “And Now That You’re Not Here”, which is, again, a measurement of perception…..when we are in extreme mental or physical pain, time slows down…..when our joys are at their zenith, days can go by unnoticed.
This breaks immediately into the fourth segment, with galloping, brutal, distorted drums and battling voices from beyond. This segment goes on for approximately 2 1/2 hours, drifting into a short, mellow, electronic toy factory setting (supplied by young weirdo rock geniuses Pitchwafuzz), and then going into another galloping section subtitled “In A Dream”. Lyrically, this section evokes the never settling, never answered ghosts of dreams….. dreams where the living person is seeing, holding or talking to the dead person…..only to awake shocked again that the real person is no longer here. This section goes on for about an hour and half and leads into the longest section of “7 Skies H3”, an abstract piece of improvised performances. This piece is subtitled “Metamorphosis”. It climaxes and dies repeatedly for 7 hours. It is a tumultuous, crumbling, time-suspended series of chord changes with dynamic altered states.
This leads up to the middle of “7 Skies H3”, somewhere around the 12 hour mark. A short, structured piece of music and singing, which is rep- resenting the voice and entity of the dead person, is subtitled “Requiem”. The voice in the song is reassuring the suffering, living person that they (the dead person) are still with them, and that they should not try to forget this intense love they shared……that to forget this love would be to forget their whole life and their whole being.
And so begins the other side of this long journey through death, a very unstructured electronic section made with iPhones and synth voices. This section is both unsettling and sooth- ing and fades into the most relaxing segment of the entire 24 hours. A b-flat chord is strummed for almost 4 hours with varying accompaniment….. some sections play in reverse. This leads to another pleasant, direction- less, improvised synthesizer jam which goes abruptly into an hour of pummel- ing chaos subtitled “Riot In My Brain”, which is made up of a short loop from an improvised freak out jam!!! It loses its footing several times and keeps the listener almost completely off-balance for almost an hour, dissolving into the final 2 1/2 hours.
A long, repeating orchestrated section which carries the main theme of “7 Skies H3” is followed by a slow motion version of the final structured piece, which is subtitled “Can’t Let It Go”. “Can’t Let It Go” is not offering any solution…. we are changed by our experiences. Some of these experiences we will be able to live with…. and maybe some of them we will not be able to live with. We cannot control our mind……..”