The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon, by The Flaming Lips, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Henry Rollins and Peaches
Suggested by Simon Rodway
Everyone has gaps in their cultural tableau.
When I met Sarah, she’d never seen Star Wars, which I found to be inconceivable. She has now of course, and she remains largely unmoved by the galactic plight of the Skywalker Clan. Similarly, as a horror film afficionado, she was astounded to discover I’d not seen The Ring, original or remake, so we watched them both and jump-scared together.
Such things are deeply personal, on both sides of the seesaw. The Hip Hop Henries in the group likely find it ridiculous that I hadn’t heard a single Kanye West song before starting this project, while personally I’m flabbergasted when someone confesses that they’ve not seen The Karate Kid. Nevertheless, there are some global standards, some touchstones on which everyone is united. Maybe you’ve never seen The Godfather, or ET. Maybe you’ve never read a Harry Potter book, or heard a Beatles song.
This preamble is leading here: I have never heard the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon.
I know. It’s a classic. I’ve heard other Floyd albums (well, I’ve heard The Wall), and I know a lot of the band’s salient singles. How could I have let it pass me by?
By extension, the issue then becomes this: how on earth am I equipped to review this, a rag-tag track-by-track cover of a classic by a hatful of bands with which I’ve little connection?
I guess we start with a look at the players. There’s The Flaming Lips, of whom I have heard, and Stardeath and White Dwarfs, of whom I have not. Henry Rollins recreates the apparent interview sections, while the singer Peaches performs vocals on The Great Gig in the Sky.
Musically, this album feels far more experimental than I’d anticipated. I presume the original has a little more polish, as it’s a mainstream classic, so I guess I can attribute the wildness as part of The Flaming Lips’ signature and peculiar schtick. Henry Rollins appears to be narrating off cue cards rather than lending bile and aggression in his inimitable spoken style. And Peaches seems to be a wailer rather than a singer, and where I’d expect her to be passionate and elegant she’s chosen bluff and bluster instead.
Everything appears to have had binary effects and setting plastered to it, as if the sound techs are testing the limits of their equipment and setting everything to either 100% or zero. There’s a lot of static noise and feedback severing any notion of control or melody. And while I recognised a few Pink Floyd kernels in amongst the sonic rubble, they did little to elevate the art.
My favourite song is the menacing Brain Damage, although I did enjoy Time / Breathe (Reprise) too, if only because I was reminded of Rolf Harris and gave out an involuntary and inappropriate giggle. Overall, I took the bare minimum from this confusing miasma of purloined and slapdash sounds. It neither enthused me for the original, or made me curious about the bands involved.
The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon get 4/10, which is one point for every five words in its title.