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At War with the Mystics

I know this is a video game blog, but most gamers turn off the games at some point and listen to music from a disc that has no games on it.  (Or, more likely, from the iTunes store.)  The Flaming Lips (website) is a band that has been around for more than two decades, but they don’t enjoy mainstream success (because they are not mainstream music) and that doesn’t mean they’re bad.  Their music has a lot of random sounds and electronic noises interspersed with strong vocals and great instruments.  The themes of their albums range from the absurd to the political.  It’s trippy whether or not you’re tripping.  I had loved their Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, but this post is about a new favorite: At War with the Mystics.

At War with the Mystics Album Cover

At War with the Mystics Album Cover

The album hits on themes of power (and abuse), politics, fanaticism, religion and belief.  As with any work of art, the interpretation lies with the observer, not with the artist.  So what you’re reading here is what I’ve gotten out of listening to this album 30 times (my play counts range from 17 to 43 on the various songs).

The album opens with “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”, which might honestly turn away some people.  The Flaming Lips are a band who, I think, are known for some random noise.  This song is no exception.  If you’re into this kind of music at all, you’ll fall in love with this song and many of the others.  Anyway, “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” questions what people would do if they had the power to.  Would you destroy the world, or save it?  I don’t think this is hypothetical.  I think it’s a harsh and biting criticism of the world’s super-wealthy, who could change everything if they devoted more money to it.  And some do – notably, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done great things with a very large operating budget.  But the world needs saving, and too often those who could save it are only interest in themselves.

“Vein Of Stars” is a soft, slow song that says there is no fate, no destiny.  I find that it is a sad way of telling people to stop waiting for good things to happen, and start taking responsibility.  There’s no heaven, no hell, just this – just what we’ve got.  The title refers to the way some people look to the stars to predict their fortune, or to explain their failures.

If you buy the extended album with bonus tracks, there is a great cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, a second version of “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”, and a fantastic song called “The Gold In The Mountain Of Our Madness”, which has great percussion and smooth lyrics.

I can’t get enough of this album.  It seems to me like it’s trying to wake people up.  Our world is dying at the hands of greedy people who use their power to exploit those they see as beneath them.  Much of the planet is still locked up in the thought that some god or planet or constellation determines the good things and bad things.  Nobody who says “bad things happen to me” is taking responsibility and trying to create a better outcome.

The whole thing is worth a listen.  Preview the songs on the iTunes Store or the MP3 Store.  And if you liked this, check out one of their earlier albums, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

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