Records That Changed My Life, Part IV

Records that changed my life, in one way or another (1999 – ?) | Part IV :

The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin / Zaireeka – Sure they were released in 1999 and 1997 respectively, but I still jumble them together as a similar era – and in the genre of rock. Especially for groundbreaking music production in popular music. I use the word popular very loosely. The first time I heard The Soft Bulletin I couldn’t stand it. Honest truth. I thought it was a total indie cliche. And in some ways, it still kind of is – but of course does not make it bad music. I was also going through this anti-music period where if the music had a key signature I couldn’t listen to it and it would grate on my ears. Yeah, I know. Weird phase. But then again The Flaming Lips on 90210 was weird, too. So anyways. I heard this record and wasn’t blow away. Then I heard this 4-disc set called Zaireeka. Wait. 4-discs at once. On different CD players! This idea was amazing to me. It got my full attention. I had never heard of something like this. It totally fascinated me and I found out it was an extension of Wayne (the singer/guitarist) performing a similar idea with car stereos and cassette tapes in a parking garage. Totally revolutionary and put 5.1 and 7.1 sound to shame. I never did get 5.1 and all that surround sound for music. It just doesn’t make sense to me. But that’s another story. Zaireeeka: 4 CDs. Similar production to The Soft Bulletin. Crazy lyrics and vagina and planes and suicide. Kind of symphonic with the strings via Roland keyboard. Music beyond emotion. DRUMS DRUMS DRUMS. And likewise with The Soft Bulletin. The Soft Bulletin was a little more cohesive of a record and in my eyes “less concept” – but I am sure others would disagree. Dave Fridmann is truly an engineer of audio. He placed the sounds on this record impeccably. The vocals and lyrics will make an asshole cry. Seriously heartfelt regardless if they happened to Wayne or not. It was a reality. Someone’s and it worked. And the lack of guitars on every cut (in other words not ever track has guitar in it) is inspiring for rock bands across the world. Rock with out guitars is not such an amazing thought. But at the time it was for me. Waiting For A Superman still gets me choked up. Those ghost notes on the snare are mesmerizing. And the Gash. Jesus Christ. Talk about pure sinister. And the gong. One can never get over the gong. Wayne loves his gong. To not be moved by this record might prove one to be lifeless and/or dead. But what do I know.

Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000) – I bought this in 2000. In NJ at a random record store that was selling a Pearl Jam record the day before it was supposed to be selling. Random, I know. But I remember these things and forget where I put my house keys. Anyways… I initially liked this record, a lot. I had not heard anything so emotional in a while at this point in my life. It was sincere heart searing instrumentals. Piercing emotions that anyone in the Western world should be able to relate so. Lots of ups and downs. The highs really high and the lows really low. It was symphonic with all the strings and mallets and rolling drums. There was seriously repetitive melodies. But it wasn’t until Emily and I were driving through a semi-worn-down area of Delaware. It was kind of baron and depressed. And the music completely fit in and clicked for me. The music already made sense to me, but it REALLY made sense to me. It was emotional and timely. There is nothing better than that. Oh yeah and there are no lyrics, so that’s always an added bonus for me.

Command Records/Terry Snyder & All Stars’ Persuasive Percussion II (Acquired in 2001 – Recorded in 1959) – This was a record given to me by a friend. I thought it was going to be simply all percussion. But it was not. It was sort of like easy listening big band music or “space age pop” as the critics call it. But the more and more I listened to it the more textures and layers and sounds I heard. Jesus Christ. This was music recorded in the 50s and 60s and it sounds like music coming out of the studios of today. It was fat and chunky and detailed and not muddy and washed out and flat like a lot of pop music from the 50s sounded like. They used stereo like George Martin started using 5+ years later. No one had ever really done such dramatic stereo panning at this time. It was a breath of fresh air for me and reassurance that there was interesting and breakthrough music happening in pop music and in recording techniques, best of all. After reading more and more about the label, I found out more about their recording techniques, like using 35mm film to record audio on to. Yeah, totally ZERO wow and flutter because the tape is sprocketed. I started picking up other Command Records records where ever I could find them. Strangely very few were ever transfered to CD. Rightfully so, as I am not sure how this music would translate to CD. If you still have no idea what this music sounds like, think Esquivel but seriously wider and deeper and bombastic. And if you ever see a Command Records LP in a bin somewhere pick it up and if you don’t like it, give it to me. I’ll give you a big kiss.

10 Responses to “Records That Changed My Life, Part IV”


  • i only got to hear three discs at once. 🙁

  • From what I understand, Zaireeka and Soft Bulletin were essentially like one long recording session. It seems like there was a long thread of evolution that started with the parking garage experiments and ended with Soft Bulletin…You can kinda still hear the thread in Yoshimi, but it sounds less experimental in the “lets try this…who knows what will happen” sense. Yoshimi is unique and creative, but there seems to be more foreknowledge involved in the recording process. With Yoshimi it is like they were aiming for a specific sound and knew how to get it. With Soft Bulletin and Zaireeka it’s more like shooting paintballs at a brick wall in the dark. They knew how the colors should interact, and had a general sense of where the last one hit, but precision was not key.

  • Oh, and Soft Bulletin instantly changed my musical life, and it was also an emotional buoy in the wake of my Grandfather’s death last February. That is one of the best albums ever made, imo. Zaireeka is just fucking nuts 🙂

  • Feets – More than a lot of people! Definately try again with 4 discs. So much fun!

    Eric – That makes sense Eric, but sorry, Yoshimi still bores me. Just never did anything for me…

  • Um…what are you sorry for? Your lack of enjoyment has no effect on my ambivalence towards the album 😉

    You love to point that out though!

    Feets, we’ll have a Zaireeka party next time you’re up!

  • Nice blog you got here man. I ended up here by way of “Low End Theory”.
    Hey… i was wondering, how are you getting your latest comments to display in the sidebar? I have installed the latest comments plugin but nothing happens. Am i doing something wrong? Or perhaps, not doing something?
    thanks in advance,
    Jay

  • awesome! a zaireeka party! woo!

  • It’s freaking awesome. The first two times I did it, though, it was just Erika and I. We had to push play on the 3rd and 4th players and let them run down through the countdown to 3 and 4, respectively, and rewind and pause to JUST before they said the number. Then we’d push play on the first two, run over to the second two, and push play as the ones preceding said their number. It worked well enough. It was much easier with 3 people. Regardless, even if it starts synched, it gets off-time quickly, which is the whole point anyway. Definitely a cool audio experience.

  • i wanna do it!

  • when i’m there next, it’s on. plus, i’ve got to meet up with your dad soon to talk bidness.

    weekends are best!

Comments are currently closed.