The Flaming Lips – Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell

The Flaming LipsEgo Tripping at the Gates of Hell (Warner Bros.)

People residing in lands far enough from the equator in either direction deal with a decidedly different day/night structure then we’re accustomed to. Due to the tilt of our sphere, people in these regions either see 24 hours of daylight or 24 hours of nighttime. That being said, someone listening to a Flaming Lips album might think the band chose to exist only during those periods of continuous sunshine, as, over time and even more so with The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Wayne Coyne and associates have consistently cornered the deep market of psychedelic, blissed-out indie popsters. Over the band’s lengthy discography, never before have they had as much popularity, praise, and artistic merit as they currently have.

2002’s Yoshimi caused a storm of publicity upon its release and later in the year on many critics’ year-end lists, highly-lauded for its approach to sentimental music, a farewell to a close friend deceased and a rumination on mortality. No less then four singles have been released from it, the latest, “Ego Tripping (at the Gates of Hell)”, finding the a-side backed by this supporting EP, which comes away with mixed results.

Four new tracks and three Yoshimi remixes appear here; the new tracks come off incredibly well and the remixes stand as basic EP filler. The new tracks are brighter and more expansive then most of Yoshimi and move the digital influence to the back of the mix in order to support a far more organic sound. “Sunship Balloons” and “Assassination of the Sun” sound like they could have come from The Soft Bulletin or even Clouds Taste Metallic, but are complimented a great deal better by Dave Fridmann’s much more evolved and advanced production. “A Change at Christmas” is a falling snowflake from the New York City sky, Coyne hoping that the world could behave just as beautifully as it does around the holidays. All in all, the new tracks provide much hope in a sonic landscape too often filled with negative sentiment.

The three remixes don’t come off as anything more than ordinary, “Do You Realize??” getting another remix treatment, this time from Jimmy Tamborello, the whiz behind Dntel and The Postal Service; whereas “Ego Tripping” gets two consecutive reworkings. All three settle on a cut up of the vocals placed over a drum’n’bass or used house loop with chiming bells thrown in for effect. They slow down the EP’s second half, but do their job as alternate takes competent enough to flesh out the running time of the release. They don’t block the power of the new material, which is all that fans of the band could ask for.

Coyne manages to keep an everlasting optimism despite the knowledge that things aren’t always perfect. The thing that makes The Flaming Lips so special, though, is that they realize that despite the fact that things are never perfect, Yoshimi does win from time to time, and that’s enough of an inspiration to get out of bed each morning and laugh.

Read the Glorious Noise review of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

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