In the Court of The Flaming Lips

In 2012, The Flaming Lips invited several bands to cover King Crimson‘s 1969 debut album, giving them complete access to their Oklahoma recording studio. The line-up included New Fumes, Linear Downfall, Spaceface, and Stardeath and White Dwarfs, a band Coyne’s nephew plays in.

Playing Hide and Seek with the Ghosts of Dawn is a complete deconstruction and reinterpretation of the King Crimson original. Each cover weaves the original melodies into those of the bands and their diverse palette of sound effects.

The 21st-Century Schizoid Man is a complete psycho created by Linear Downfall. The album opens with a dense megalomania of technological and mechanical sound effects in a ‘grungy,’ crumpled sound. During the highly rhythmic sections, however, the band gives a relaxed recitation of these sections compared to the original which was executed very precisely. Aside from that, the song retains its neurotic tendencies throughout its entirety.

New Fumes depict I Talk to the Wind in a tranquil, watery atmosphere removed from the ordinary world. Calmness remains before a ‘dysfunctional,’ ‘cosmic’ solo unfurls and gradually disappears into the quiet resolve.

All five bands contribute to give the mournful Epitaph a colorful repainting free and unrestrained in sound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ6jqG0x9i8

Spaceface open Moonchild with an abrasive guitar sounding as if it were being ripped. The song is full of immense energy and sound throughout before giving way to a pleasant, mantra-like instrumental with a watery guitar bringing to mind Pink Floyd‘s Echoes. If you listen to the lyrics, you’ll also find that the album’s name derives from a line in this song.
The more minimal In the Court of the Crimson King is surprisingly disappointing. Instead of a bombastic finish, Stardeath and White Dwarfs present stagnant vocal melodies on a repeat loop and song revivals here and there with the sudden appearance of a sound effect. The song had the potential to sound great and very grand, but the minimal approach didn’t work out and resulted in an underwhelming song lacking in originality.
Nearly each band impressively deconstructs the King Crimson original on Playing Hide and Seek… Dawn as they blend the main melodies into each of their individual styles to create a contemporary reworking of a progressive classic.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

From the few albums I’ve listened to, The Flaming Lips are an American rock band with stylistically eclectic albums that dabble and weave in a variety of styles. Their most impressive and listenable album, in my opinion, is Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The songs are rich in melodies that counter the layered instrumental harmonies in the background, and with the added sound effects, no gap is left unfilled. The Flaming Lips are sonic thirst-quenchers. 
The man-versus-machine theme pervades nearly the first half of the album, and then continues, generally, on a futuristic theme. When you follow the narrative within the lyrics, the sound effects give the impression that the songs take place in a Colosseum of the future.
Fight Test opens the album in a live setting and introduces the theme of time. The lyrics are mentoric as they narrate personal experiences of winning and losing in a melody bearing striking resemblance to Cat Stevens‘s Father and Son.
One More Robot/ Sympathy 3000-21 is more futuristic in its narration of robots learning to understand and display emotions. Metaphorically, the song suggests that future humans are so mechanised that they lose that which distinguished them from machines. The lyrics depict these ‘robots’ realising this, and therefore relearning to be human.
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Parts 1 and 2 introduce the character of the album. An ordinary Japanese girl by the name Yoshimi is training to defeat the machines, and battles them in a bombastic and extremely colourful instrumental in which she- SPOILER ALERT!– ultimately wins.

In the Morning of the Magicians is a calmer song with a melancholic undertone, with the lyrics questioning what love and hate are, and why they mean a great deal. 
Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell is a slower song reduced to a simple rhythmic accompaniment and groovy bass riff. This, and the addition of echoing vocals, give the impression of an ego suspended in space.
Are You a Hypnotist? is a down-tempo song. Although simple in texture, it builds increasingly builds in tension through the low chords of the synthesised organ and the later addition of harmonising, operatic vocals.
It’s Summertime is another slow and melancholic song. Aspects of it that stand out the most are the subtle changes from the major to the minor key in the vocal melody. The reverberating bass also gives the song a cosmic atmosphere, particularly towards the end.
The lyrics speak for themselves in the phat sound and rich melodies highly reminiscent of ELO within Do You Realise?


All we Have is Now takes on a futuristic perspective that reminds us of the fleeing nature of time and the importance of being in the present.
The album finishes with the groovy instrumental Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia), where the ad-lib vocals far in the background sound very similar to Pink Floyd‘s The Great Gig in the Sky.
In all, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is a highly enjoyable listen for its rich sonic atmosphere, intricate harmonies, and story-like lyrics in the theme of a clockwork future.