“The experience is meant to be through these twelve separate sound sources… Get them going, you can walk around the room, you can leave one phone in place, you can really experiment with it”
-Steven Drozd to Jake Fogelnest, Download 15 – February 19, 2011
There are endless ways to listen to it The Flaming Lips’ “Two Blobs Fucking” – a “song” released as 12 separate YouTube videos uploaded at youtube.com/user/flaminglipsfree (not The Flaming Lips’ regular YouTube channel) – that is one of the wonderful things about it. Even if you can’t get all 12 videos playing at once, there’s plenty of ways to experiment.
With the (Flaming Lips-approved) PsychExFutureHeart “Canon”, all 12 parts weave in and out of each other over 24 minutes, from four sources (more on that here). The idea is to hear it take shape, build-up and then fall apart. It’s also an easy way to hear various combinations of tracks, and really get inside the piece.
You can also listen to the Canon video (above) on just one computer as a way to sample the twelve tracks simply since it breaks the original videos into four different combination groups (each mixing together three of The Flaming Lips’ layers).
Another way to listen is with the suavizado.com/twoblobs mixer. It is the easiest way to synch all the videos using just one computer, not only because it starts the twelve videos with one click, but also since it’s easy to adjust the volume of each. Controlling the levels of the videos you can “mix” it in real time – a fun, interactive way to listen. You can also mute some of the videos to isolate specific layers. Just because The Flaming Lips created twelve videos doesn’t mean they have to all be play together, every time. There are dozens of interesting combinations that sound significantly different from each other. All are interesting. Exploring the piece this way is what it is all about.
Numerous “all 12” mixes have popped up on YouTube since February 14th, but most of them are cluttered and give a false impression – not just of what the piece “sounds” like, but it’s very essence (of these mixes, this is best because it’s “an actual stereo remix, with thought put into panning, fading, balance, etc…this mix gives the song more space and atmosphere, and is less cramped than other fan-made stereo mixes“). It’s a bit cacophonous when all the layers play at once through just two speakers and it defeats the purpose (otherwise, The Flaming Lips would have mixed it to two speakers to begin with). On the other hand, by listening to each layer individually with a single speaker set-up, its true nature begins to be revealed: clever, cinematic, disturbing and gorgeous. But to really “hear it”, you must use numerous devices (even if you only have two available, that’s better than one).
Contrary to the implication of thoughtless twelve-in-one mixes – such as one featured in the article “Salon Remixes Overcomplicated Flaming Lips Single” – this isn’t a piece to play in the background as you multitask on the web. It’s not complicated to “get” but it does require your time and concentration for it to even make sense. Salon and others miss the point in trying to “save” you the “work” of listening to it as it was designed – the effort put forth by the listener and the experience of that process are the “song”, not the composite notes and sounds. This would be like somebody saying they “saved you the work” of going to a concert by editing a three minute highlight video for you to watch instead. Likewise, trying to understand/ appreciate a work designed to be played on multiple iPhones/ computers by listening to it through two speakers from one computer (especially where you have no control of the mix) is a bit like judging a work of architecture from a picture on the web. Yeah, the online image provides a general impression of what it “looks” like, but to really appreciate the thought and skill that went into its design you have to walk through the building, notice the minor details and feel what it’s like to physically be inside it.
Steven to Jake Fogelnest, Download 15 – February 19, 2011: “If you can’t get all twelve going, what I’ve been doing, and I think this is just as much fun, is pick three of four of the tracks and play those. There’s some really fun combinations of things to do… So within these twelve tracks – depending on what combination of tracks you do – there’s all these different feels and sorts of ambient trips and sort of things that you can into… Flaming Lips fans are pretty resourceful, they can figure out ways to do thing…”