The Flaming Lips' Six Hour Song: Turn On, Tune In And Get Off Your Tits

All 360 minutes of The Flaming Lips' new "drug experience" song, condensed into one gurn-free, comedown-dodging, non-mind-altering article...
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All 360 minutes of The Flaming Lips' new "drug experience" song, condensed into one gurn-free, comedown-dodging, non-mind-altering article...

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I wouldn't normally listen to a song that is so long there's a good chance I may need to defecate before it reaches its natural conclusion. Step forward, The Flaming Lips...

“We suggest, playfully,” says Wayne Coyne, “that you take some kind of drug experience with this – whether that's mushrooms or LSD or ecstasy or any of these things – and you do it with a group of friends...”

Whether you've dropped or not, I Found a Star on the Ground wastes no time getting started, smacking you across the chops with a backdraft of distortion and frenetic percussion the very second you press play.

“The theme of the entire six hours,” Coyne continues, “is that it feels a little bit like The Velvet Underground are playing in one part of the room, while a Mario Brothers video game is playing in the other, and they play off each other almost infinitely.”

And he's dead on.

The first hour does have a strange canter to it – evoking images of some long-forgotten 32-bit platform game. You're in the living room, wrestling with a boss level, while John Cale fucks about with drones in the dining room. “Keep it down, Cale,” you shout, as the levels toughen along with music. “Fuck you,” comes the reply, as he increases the volume of his monophonic din. There's also fleeting elements of blissed-out beauty to the first 60 minutes; but you're never far away from a menacing howl of feedback or scathing sound effect.

The Two-and-a-half-hour mark hits hard, as Steven Drozd begins jabbering like a madman, possessed by a lunatic, speaking in tongues, after hoofing a wrap of speed. It's really weird. Fucking disturbing, even.

As the second hour ticks by, we're hit with some serious 13th Floor Elevators-esque psychedelic guitars and rumblings of Jefferson Airplane, punctuated with an unrelenting stab of noise akin to a wounded whale's death rattle.

Half-way through the second hour, the track unwinds – a volley of electronic explosions, underpinned by some melodic fretwork, sees I Found a Star... fade into near-silence. All that remains is the deepening, now heavily distorted sound of that dying whale. In comes Sean Lennon, reading the names of those that donated $100 to the Oklahoma Humane Society and the Academy of Contemporary Music at The Lips' request – where all proceeds from this track are also heading. He sounds like a doomed spaceman, relaying the names of family and friends he wishes ground control to say one last goodbye to on his behalf.

The end of the second hour, moving into the first 10 minutes of the third, finds The Lips in ethereal electrogaze territory: lashings of strings, synths and trippy vocals. It doesn't last long.

The Flaming Lips - Found a Star on the Ground [Part One of Three]

The track erupts back into life with a fidgeting drumline, demented, panning guitar riff and enough distortion to make The Jesus and Mary Chain sound like Alphabeat.

Now. Hold on to your space bubbles, Lips fans. Shit is about to get properly mental.

The Two-and-a-half-hour mark hits hard, as Steven Drozd begins jabbering like a madman, possessed by a lunatic, speaking in tongues, after hoofing a wrap of speed. It's really weird. Fucking disturbing, even. If, as Coyne suggests, you're held in the grip of a hallucinogen at this point; Drozd's babble is about to make your skin fall off, reform as a six-foot-tall effigy of Lucifer's phallus, gouge out your still-beating heart and feed it to you while your dead grandmother spectates, tears of blood rolling from her eyes. Probably.

The concluding 30 minutes brings with it a full-on space-funk wig-out, full of great splashing symbols and strutting hooks.

The third hour passes into the fourth with faltering Chicago house keys, stifled by repeated static blasts at the end of each bar. Lennon arrives to offer a breather – delivering another list of donors' names – as we enter by far the most stable section of I Found a Star...

This hour or so is a pivotal moment in your “drug experience”; where you slowly climb out of a cavernous ket hole, the point your pill begins a floaty, euphoric retreat or the instant the Devil's cock stops trying to fuck your chest and you drift safely back to sanity. It's beautiful, starry-eyed music that puts you in mind of a triumphant, dawn walk home from a Balearic club.

The Flaming Lips - Found a Star on the Ground [Part Two of Three]

From here on in, it's a steady, insouciant saunter to the end. Or so the first half of the final hour would have you believe.

The concluding 30 minutes brings with it a full-on space-funk wig-out, full of great splashing symbols and strutting hooks. The track ebbs to its denouement with a gorgeous arpeggio, a final helping of intermittent sonic blasts, more shout-outs from Lennon, victorious strings and the repeated line: “We will always love you.”

I Found a Star on the Ground is strange, beautiful, dark and incandescent; self-indulgent, audacious, pretentious and brilliant; senseless, rewarding, infuriating and enlightening. It's 360 minutes long, for fuck's safe.

The Flaming Lips - Found a Star on the Ground [Part Three of Three]

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