Musik, Die Shwer Zu Twerk

Electric Würms

Warner Brothers, 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_W�rms

REVIEW BY: Ken DiTomaso

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/20/2014

Musik, Die Shwer Zu Twerk is the latest in a long series of side projects to come from the Flaming Lips. I don't particularity understand their reasoning for releasing this record under the Electric Würms moniker, since the Flaming Lips are the folks playing on it and it pretty much sounds just like them, but that's their prerogative I suppose. This “new” band is notable for flipping the roles of the Lips since multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd takes the frontman position while usual Flaming Lips leader Wayne Coyne stays in the background on the bass. Despite being billed as the band's take on progressive rock, it doesn't venture far beyond their usual influences when it comes to that sort of thing. So for most of this album we get psychedelic, noise-driven grooves in the vein of Can accompanied by Pink Floyd-influenced atmospherics. Pretty much par for the course for these guys.

Since they aren't doing anything all that new here, it gets a little tedious at times. The dark and chaotic sound of the album is often a feast for the ears, but we've heard it all before and the songs themselves aren't up to the Flaming Lips’ usual standards. The melody of “The Bat,” for instance, sounds like it was improvised over some random jamming. Not the worst songwriting crime ever made, but it holds the song back from becoming anything more than just a cool passing listen, and that criticism holds true for the majority of this album. “The Second Time” is not much more than a synth-loop away from being a total knockoff of “On The Run” by Pink Floyd. Various organ sounds, vocals, and other things weave in and out, but it goes on for far too long without adding up to much. The propulsive groove of “Transform,” on the other hand, is quite infectious, but like many of the other songs here, the vocals aren't much more than window dressing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Ultimately, this album is pretty much just a lengthy prelude to its final track. It's always an odd situation when the best song on an album is a cover, but that's absolutely the case here since this record closes out with a stunning take on the Yes classic “Heart Of The Sunrise.” They've completely made it their own with general psychedelic madness splattered all over the mix. Drozd rises to the occasion with a soaring vocal delivery that almost matches the feel of the original. It's lacking the epic scope of the original since this version removes the extended instrumental sections. But in spite of its abbreviated length, it still manages to build to the same fulfilling catharsis that endeared the original to so many people. The Flaming Lips (and “fwends”) has developed a major penchant for doing covers over the years, but this one is easily the greatest they've pulled off to date.

It would have been nice if they could have added one or two more tracks to expand this to the length of a full album. For a record that's been promoted as being inspired by progressive rock, it's odd that they kept this release so short. 28 minutes is rather underwhelming. This is a fun record for fans of The Flaming Lips at their most psychedelic, but the album's short length and the slight nature of its songwriting betrays its side-project status. With the exception of “Heart Of The Sunrise,” it's not something I'll return to often.

Rating: C+

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