When a band is already one of the most unique, and among the most innovative in the music biz, what can they do to get even more innovative? The Flaming Lips answer that question in a unique and surreal way in "Zaireeka," which may be the most unique album ever recorded. Whether it's genius depends on how you view music.
Four discs make up "Zaireeka." When played simultaneously, they create a maelstrom of sound. Setting it up with four CD players sounds a bit arduous, but the experience is worth it when songs like the brilliant "Riding to Work in the Year 2025 (You're Invisible Now)" burst out of the multiple speakers. It gives an expansive feeling to the music, as if it's billowing out like smoke and surrounding the listener in a big cushy wall of sound.
The songs have an experimental feeling to them. Some, like "Okay I'll Admit I Really Don't Understand" and "Machine in India" are lacking in complexity when compared to the remaining songs. But in every song, the shimmering multiple layers of sound interweave together, befuddling and dazzling me. A mere disc couldn't hold this much sound. Dogs barking, surreal guitars, gothic organs and pounding drums are much louder here than anywhere else.
It's hard to tell how clear the sound is because of its intensity; it sounds like there are dozens of melodies being played together at times. And fans of the Lips' masterpiece "Soft Bulletin" should check this out. The sound of Zaireeka, once I got used to it, made me think of reminiscent of a bigger, more complicated twin of "Soft Bulletin."
"Zaireeka" is an unparalleled experience that few bands could even dream of, let alone actually make. If you're in the mood for 4-D surreal soundscapes, then this is your thing. A marvelous album.