UPDATE July 18th – Hear all three tracks from the Gummy Fetus below.
Check back here or follow twitter.com/FutureHeartDay for more info coming on the release of this Gummy Fetus.
Also coming soon: updates on The Flaming Lips’ Grinderman remix and Nick Cave collab, Lips/ Lightning Bolt collab 12″ vinyl and music video (to be released in the next few days), “An Evening with Wayne Coyne” free download coming to iTunes, Weezer/ Lips Live Extravaganza (…what’s that Rivers? double space bubble entrance?!), ultra-rare Sonic Youth Tribute “Hits Are For Squares” re-release (with Beck, Radiohead, Eddie Vedder, Mike D), Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon live interwoven with the Wizard of Oz, the Lips’ strobo-trip animation light toy and EP (may involve Wayne’s wife peeing – see below), the WOMB freak art space, the Lips’ Ebay controversy… the Gummy Frog… and on and on…
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“I’m hoping it’s controversial…”
– Wayne Coyne explaining The Flaming Lips’ Gummy Song Fetus to consequenceofsound on June 2, 2011 (posted June 9th)
Not long after The Flaming Lips announced their initial plans to release new music in a life-size skull made of edible gummy in early March, Wayne Coyne tweeted a follow-up idea (apparently inspired by the picture below): a gummy fetus.
A week later they were working on their second batch of 2011 sessions with producer Dave Fridmann for their ongoing series of monthly 12″ colored vinyl and odd releases. Among the tunes they recorded were “The Super Moon Made Me Want to Pee!!!” – the opening track to their latest release, a collaborative EP with Prefuse 73 (read the story behind the colorfully named song here and listen to it here) – and the opener to (what presumably will be) their next release of new songs: “Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear Part 2″. In the video below watch Steven Drozd lay down some country pickin’ for the song as it developed at that session – followed by footage of Wayne Coyne’s vocal overdub a month later – for a clue of what the Gummy Song Fetus will sound like:
In early May, Psych Exploration of the Future Heart posted the first glimpse to circulate the web of the gummy fetus in progress (also pictured at the top of this page), though no more information was known. That was until Wayne Coyne tweeted a picture and a video on June 7th that revealed The Flaming Lips are releasing three new songs in a Gummy Song Fetus:
1 Enthusiasm For Life Defeats Existential Fear Pt.2
2 Steven’s Moonbow
3 Squishy Glass
When The Flaming Lips released their first “Gummy Song Skull” on April 20th, I noted that their next endeavor might be releasing music in a gummy fetus. It’s an idea that didn’t go over well with everyone – consequenceofsound‘s Alex Young called it, “just about the creepiest thing you’ll ever see”. More recently, Consequence of Sound’s Ray Roa interviewed Wayne, immediately asking him to confirm the fetus. Wayne responded:“until I have the fetuses and can send them out, I wouldn’t say for sure. It is just some gummy, so I like how it gained some importance there. We like doing different sorts of things… It’s the perfect time to do all of this.”
Since this interview, Wayne has tweeted pictures of the Gummy Skulls (which will apparently be released any day now)…
“Perfect time”? “Just some gummy”? “Creepiest thing you’ll ever see”?
To be sure, it is bizarre to have to eat through a fetus-shaped object to listen to new music, but no more so than munching on a skull – and both those images are quintessentially Flaming Lips.
Throughout The Flaming Lips’ career they’ve used skulls and skeletons as creatively as any group – from the artwork on their first record to the annual March of a 1000 Flaming Skeletons Halloween parade they’ve hosted the past four years. Likewise, we’re talking about a band that marketed a “Silver Trembling Fetus” 2009 Christmas ornament “(see it in Wayne’s sales pitch video, here). Around that same time, MTV Cribs checked out Wayne’s house and found a fetus in his ‘fridge.
In one of my first ever posts I waxed euphoric about “Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus With Needles”, how it can be perceived as the all-time quintessential Flaming Lips song, and how it informs Psych Exploration of the Future Heart. I argued, “it’s as representative of the Lips’ output and quirks as any…it hits upon all their key themes, from science and philosophy to bees and bugs… amoebas… God… death… animals… a spaceship… altering perceptions… ” … and so on (click the link above for the many other reasons I gave) – but at the core of all this is that track name and the image it creates. Who else but The Flaming Lips would create (with merely a song title) a mental picture so vivid – and so bizarre: needles psychiatrically probing a fetus!
In that same post I also counter-argued, “maybe “Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear” is the quintessential Lips’ track precisely because it doesn’t sound quite like any other. After all, The Lips aren’t like most bands: they can’t be summarized by a certain “sound” nor can their achievements be reduced to their parts.”
“Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear” is one of the Flaming Lips songs most beloved by their core fanbase. It was originally heard in their documentary The Fearless Freaks and after being voted on was added to the band’s live repertoire from July through October 2009. That was slightly before my aforementioned post, in which I noted, “It wasn’t a single, or technically even an album-track, but it may be their best-known song to not be… Much like the Lips’ position as a model “cult band” – eccentric but not elitist – “Enthusiasm” represents an exceptional equilibrium: it’s neither what came before nor appallingly different, neither conventional nor inaccessible, and neither well known nor obscure. If these are what it’s not than “the ultimate cult track by the ultimate cult band” is what it is….”
I have a feeling the same will be said of the sequel, and the other two songs on the Gummy Song Fetus.
The reasons “Enthusiasm For Life” was/is so adored by fans are the same reasons that make it “quintessential Lips”: “delicate Drozd pickin’ and percussion, as well as all sorts of homespun, oddly graceful noises… Wayne’s warbling, the simplicity of the lyric, its lack of a refrain, images of the sun shining down on death, the contrast of loud and soft sections with alternating moods and textures, back porch string bending and ad-libbed talkin’, the beautiful banjo, synth orchestration, the sway of a smile and the reassurance that bad dreams pass (does that make it the opposite of Bad Days?)… “Enthusiasm” seemed upon its 2005 release like the first taste of the new, un-robotic sound the Lips were developing for Yoshimi’s follow-up (described by Wayne months previous as “space-age jazz and progressive Dixieland,” though that direction was ultimately abandoned as At War With the Mystics took shape)… It may not sound like any previous Flaming Lips’ songs, but it certainly sounds like The Flaming Lips. Likewise, their home state is a cornerstone of their public image and “Enthusiasm” precisely pronounces their slant on being Oklahoman: Wayne’s accent, the trippy banjo, dogs barkin’, trains whistlin’ and the sun rising like an image from “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin‘.” It’s the absolute sound of The Flaming Lips wrapped in another of their characteristic song titles and absolutely from The Sooner State.
So what can we foresee from “Enthusiasm For Life Part 2”?
Based on the footage from Tarbox in March, and Wayne back in Oklahoma in April, we can anticipate: more Drozd pickin’, perhaps some homespun noises and back porch string bending and certainly Wayne’s warbling a simple but profound lyric with strong images (“I woke up from a bad dream/ Glad, glad that it wasn’t the real thing/ Your hand was waiting there for me”). In other words, more absolute sounds, absolutely from the Sooner State’s fabbest freaks.
It seems likely the segment of Lips fans troubled by the band’s recent tendency to omit choruses (or even proper verses – en lieu of through-composed music or idiosyncratic forms) will be relieved by a return to traditional song structure and I-IV-V chord changes in “Enthusiasm For Life Defeats Existential Fear Part 2” (like some sort of decidedly un-CMT country music from a cosmic dixieland), though you never can tell with The Flaming Lips…
In any case, we can most of all expect – as with its predecessor – the reassurance that bad dreams pass…
And that is why it is poetically perfect that the sequel to one of their most cherished tracks – a song about living life in the face of nightmarish realities – will be the first song on their gummy fetus (a quintessential Lips image).
Afterall, a fetus is life before birth…
And on that note, take another look at the picture at the top of this page – specifically the top of the red skull to the right. That, my friends, is a Flaming Lips Gummy Skull Vagina. Wayne usually describes his vagina imagery as being about birth. Afterall, every fetus needs a vagina to be birthed, just like every life needs enthusiasm to be lived. More on that here…
So where are all these “Gummy Song” releases leading??? Perhaps to a giant gummy of Wayne Coyne!
“I think by next February we will have a giant collection. But I don’t know what the format would be. We talked about it being available in a life-size version of me. You buy this thing, and in my feet, head and hands would be songs. But that would be an elaborate collection. I don’t know. We’ve also thought about releasing them all in a huge vinyl set, or some giant object that has several USB drives in it. As we go, we’ll probably discover more cool ways to do it.”
-Wayne Coyne to wired.com, May 2011
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