Artist: The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and the White Dwarves, Henry Rollins and Peaches
Title: Doing the Dark Side of the Moon
Label: Warner Brothers Music
Genre: psyche rock, alt rock, rock, experimental, concept
I like how out of the loop I can be in the vast, ever-expanding world of music, sometimes totally not knowing when artists I like put out albums until years after the fact. I was poking around Best Buy this afternoon, trying to kick a stomach ache while my girlfriend and I went hunting for a lithium battery for the DVD remote. I wandered into the CD section and found this little gem, hiding in plain sight. I bought it, full of glee, and then blew 230$ on groceries because life is a real drag at times.
So, I started playing it on the ride home, amused greatly that these great musicians and bands were all together, creating a cover album from Pink Floyd’s original masterpiece. It occurred to me that often, listeners have reservations at times to cover tunes, tributes and reinterpretations of famous tracks; they tend to freak out if the cover is too different from the good old original version. And that’s not really a bad thing; I’m guilty of it too, at times. Sometimes, it helps to take a step back, forget about the original and judge it for what it is, as if this cover was the original. And other times, that’s impossble, but that’s not the case here.
Of course, stand-alone judging can be hard to do, especially when the biggest songs in rock history get reworked; songs that everyone knows and knows well. And on that note, how does one rework something as wild as Pink Floyd?
Here’s a huge project getting tackled by some of the most experimental rockers and artists around. You have the psyche-indie Flaming Lips and Stardeath and the White Dwarves, the experimentalism of Henry Rollins and the futuristic electronica of Peaches. The end result is a wild, noisy and brilliant concoction of tunes.
It opens with the familiar pattering that would suggest “Speak to Me,” and then we quickly explode into the wondrous guitar and vocals of “Time”. Before you know it, tracks blur together and you’re in “That Great Gig in the Sky”. The traditional vocal wailing that accompanied the original track is distorted and frantically belted out, revealing an intimate moment between the singer and the idolized composer. The feeling is raw and real.
“Money” kicks off with a glitched out, noisy guitar riff before the familiar riffs arrive, and semi-robotic vocoder-autotuned whispers invited us to sing along. It’s a nice take on the song, hinting at the disenchanted future that is still soured by the need for cash, made all the more real as we bop around in this poor economy.
Throughout this album, bits of spoken-word appear, I presume by Rollins himself most of the time. It’s fresh and kind of reflects on the bits of chatter that dotted the original, but still maintaining a new vantage point.
“Us and Them” is just as mellow as ever, if not more so here. The mix of the Flaming Lips and Henry Rollins is flawless and intoxicating. The execution is a fusion of spoken word, original lyrics and distorted organ and swooshes with guitar. Smooth. One blink later, its “Any Colour You Like”, a sweet instrumental jam. One more blink, and its “Brain Damage,” perhaps the most recognizable song from the original composition. The tune gets a mellow treatment before the noise rises when the chorus arrives. It feels very forlorn, hinting at sort of a postmodern dismay and dissatisfaction as we enter the second decade of the new millennium. “Matter of fact, it’s all dark.”
My only complaint here is that the CD version of this, despite claims from a few internet pages, does not feature the closing track “Breathe” by itself as track ten. Rather, we close with “Eclipse”. I have no idea why it seems the stand-alone version of “Breathe” was omitted, but I digress, the album does seem grand as it is.
4.5 out of 5.