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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Multi-Channel Music > Flaming Lips (DVD + CD set)

Flaming Lips (DVD-Audio/Video + CD)


Music: A     MLP 5.1: A     Dolby Digital 5.1: A     PCM CD: B     Extras: A



The Flaming Lips have been around for a long time in the music industry, but have remained relatively low profile.  Their efforts over the years have not gone unnoticed picking up a very loyal cult following.  Their ability to mix more unconventional and unorthodox music ranks among some of the best in the market.  In fact many groups are similar, but come nowhere close to the magnitude of this band.  One such comparison might be the highly overrated They Might Be Giants.  In 2002 The Flaming Lips would release their paramount release Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which quickly became considered their best-ever album.  Many fans might argue that point, but what is a fact is that this album won them a Grammy. 


Whatever the case may be, I was certainly excited about the DVD-Audio release for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, but I had no idea what I was in for.  First off, the DVD+CD pack includes just the basic CD version of Yoshimi, which is a nice plus if you do not already own this album.  It gives those less familiar a chance to hear the group on conventional CD players as well as hear the mixes that were on that album.  Now as for the actual DVD option that is a whole different ballgame.  The DVD can be played two ways. 


First there is the advanced resolution mode for those equipped with a DVD-Audio specific DVD player.  This allows for the MLP playback in both 5.1 and stereo.  If you do not have a DVD-Audio ready machine, than your audio choices are limited to just two soundtracks: Dolby Digital 5.1 and basic Dolby 2.0 Stereo, which is still quite adequate.  The entire album has been remixed for a 5.1 configuration in both MLP and Dolby Digital.  However, the goodies do not stop there.  There are also remixes of many of the tracks that were also featured on some of the LP releases from this album including the one for the song Fight Test.  These alternate versions or rare songs playback can play back well in a Pro Logic II configuration. 


The DVD also includes a video portion, which includes some videos and alternate videos that were shot for songs from Yoshimi such as Fight Test, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part One, and Do You Realize? 


Track Listing (Videos)


Do You Realize? (Mark Pellington version)

Do You Realize?

Making of the Do You Realize? video

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1

Making of the Yoshimi video

Fight Test

Phoebe Battles the Pink Robots

Christmas on Mars (Movie Trailer)

Making of the Yoshimi DVD-Audio

Are You a Hypnotist?


The real highlight out of this section is the Mark Pellington (yes the director of the highly disappointing Mothman Prophecies) version of the Do You Realize? video.  Although the concept idea does not venture much from the original video, there is definitely more money put forth on this version and his vision for the video.  More money gives the video a stronger appeal.  Oddly enough some of these videos contain the same mix that was on the DVD-Audio portion and playback in 5.1, while others are down converted to either a stereo or even Pro Logic II configuration. 


The most amazing element to this DVD-Audio release is the remixes that have been performed for each song for multi-channel playback.  Taking experimental liberties from the original CD tracks and making the album come across through 5 discrete channels, plus a subwoofer.  One smart decision was using Elliot Scheiner to do the surround mix since he worked on the quite successful DVD-Audio version of Queen’s A Night at the Opera.  This was one small step for man, but now with the format exploding with all kinds of multi-channel releases Yoshimi lends itself quite well for such experimental mixing.  The following is a breakdown of how each song is organized for its 5.1 mix.


Fight Test – Certainly one of the strongest tracks on the album and the drums move around in a clockwise manner picking up volume and spreading it around.  The vocals are split between the front soundstage and the rear. A different type of chorus sound can now be heard in the rear giving a new dimension to an already beautiful song. 

One More Robot/Symphony 3000-21 – Not one of the stronger tracks, but still a nice one that demonstrates the subtle bass that begins at one place and moves around the room.  The vocals are also split back and forth between the front and rear.


Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1 – Definitely one of the more innovating tracks with the mix breaking the bass patterns into different positions and panning vocals from side to side, rear to front, and diagonally as well. 


Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 2 – Probably one of the most chaotic tracks and least interesting, but the mix 5.1 mix offers bass being split through the channels in a complex way. 


In the Morning of the Magicians – This mix begins in the center and moves around the listener as the song progresses.  There are varying degrees of volume being played with as well and the mix becomes involves and less involved from time to time making the listener feel dizzy.  It’s almost like a high tide and low time effect.


Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell – A clever little title that uses more guitar and pans from rear to front with the strings wandering all through the mix. 


Are You a Hypnotist? – Drums are spread throughout with different mixes here and the mix loops through in a clockwise type of manner.  The mix is constantly on the move making the listener wonder where sound is coming from next.


It’s Summertime – A great track that emphasizes the group’s ability to write more melodic and graceful tunes.  A whirlpool type of effect allows for the sound to penetrate through the viewer as it goes around the room. 


Do You Realize? – Clearly one of the best tracks from this release and one of the best mixes.  The vocals come from all angles while the arrangement is very disorienting as the mix moves from clockwise to counterclockwise.


All We Have Is Now – Vocals are split up in this one a bit as drums shift from rear to front and other effects move around at appropriate place. 


Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon – To finish off this album is a swirling mix that tends to wander around and shift directions with delay or reverb placed primarily in the rear. 


It would be nearly impossible to mention every single nuance of each mix, but this gives a general idea of what is going on, which is vastly different than the CD release.  What ends up happing is that those already quite familiar with this album get to re-explore it.  Those who have never heard this album get a few options for venturing into the world of The Flaming Lips and what a wonderful world that is.  It should be noted that this is a must-have for experimental reasons given that this is one of the most expressive and playful mixes released at this point.  The extras plus the inclusion of the basic CD make this a hot item that is worth every solitary cent!!!



-   Nate Goss


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