Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Flaming Lips - 7 Skies H3

The Flaming Lips - 7 Skies H3
(soniclovenoize 90-minute edit)

1.  Can’t Shut Off My Head  [19:22]
2.  Meepy Morp  [3:15]
3.  Radiation Wind  [2:36]
4.  Battling Voices From Beyond  [4:02]
5.  Electronic Toy Factory (featuring Pitchwafuzz)  [2:27]
6.  In A Dream  [5:26]
7.  Metamorphosis  [13:23]
8.  Requiem  [5:04]
9.  The Other Side  [2:56]
10.  An Outpouring of Immaculate Light Consumes Your Body  [9:52]
11.  Meepy Morp (Reprise)  [5:15]
12.  Riot In My Brain!!  [3:36]
13.  7 Skies H3 (Main Theme)  [6:26]
14.  Can’t Let It Go  [6:18]

This is my own unique edit of The Flaming Lips’ epic 24-hour song, “7 Skies H3”, edited to the length of an ordinary 90-minute double-album.  Each of the song’s fourteen movements were extracted to represent a song on this album that never was; each song was then edited down to an appropriate length for that particular song in the context of an album.  In effect, some tracks act as mere transitions to other, while some tracks remained epic in scope (in the context of an album anyways).  My edit is essentially similar to the band’s own official 50-minute edit released on limited edition vinyl for Record Store Day in 2014, but is more inclusive as it is twice the length, allowing for more movements (appearing here as songs) that could not fit onto one album.  All track segues are intact and this album plays as a continuous 90-minute piece.  All official song titles are used, except for the unnamed movements which will default to the long-held fan-chosen titles.     

By the 2010s, The Flaming Lips have reached a mid-life crisis.  They had already made their cherished acid-punk indie releases in the 1980s; they already had their breakthrough noise-pop hit in 1993 with “She Don’t Use Jelly”; they already made their self-serving experimental four-disc  album, Zaireeka; they had already made their critically acclaimed symphonic-pop masterpiece The Soft Bulletin; they had already managed the trick of “selling out” and still retaining their audience with Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots in 2002; they had already made a complete musical about-face into dark, hypnotic Krautrock for Embryonic.  If they refuse to break-up, what does a band who has already done everything do next?  The answer: whatever the fuck they want. 

This of course meant a series of bizarre EP releases throughout 2011 which included: a song meant to be played on 12 different cell phones simultaneously; recordings released on flash drives encased in marijuana-flavored gummy skulls; and a six-hour song released inside a strobe light toy.  While one could perceive this as pure gimmick, this observer sees it as a result of the combined boredom with the typical rock band archetype and the realization of ultimate artistic freedom, something earned after 30 years of making music.  But it was that six-hour song, “I Found A Star On The Ground”, that set a new bar for the band searching for something interesting to fill their time in 2011: how does one top a 6-hour song?  With a 24-hour song, of course! 

“7 Skies H3” tells the story of a protagonist whose love commits suicide, and the listener embarks on a psychedelic journey through his grief process as well as a musical representation of her afterlife.  The song—becoming an insane challenge for Flaming Lips fans to even listen to it in its entirety—was released to a limited edition of 13 copies on Halloween 2011, encased in an actual human skull.  It was also broadcast as a live webstream, which continually (and to this day) plays the song indefinitely.  While detractors found even more gimmick to condemn, there was one thing they could not argue: “7 Skies H3”contained some of the best music The Flaming Lips ever produced. 

But how could one even plausibly listen to a 24-song just to find this brilliance?  Aside from the obviously daring few devoted the time necessary for such an undertaking, there were also some clever fans much like myself.  StrangePets created an excellent 3-hour and 33-miunte edit, a more digestible experience for any curious listener.  He then further created what he dubbed his MicroMix which condensed the 333 Mix down to 90 minutes, with all song segues similar so that one could custom make a “7 Skies H3” mix using segments from either of his 333 Mix or MicroMix.  Finally, The Flaming Lips themselves released their own take on a condensed “7 Skies H3” as a 50-minute album version released on Record Store Day 2014.  Having never bothered with the full 24-hour version myself, it was those three mixes that inspired me to ask: “What if this 24-hour song was somehow edited down to a 90-minute double-album that never was?”

My album version of 7 Skies H3 begins with “Can’t Shut Off My Head”, one of the four lyric-based segments that explains the concept of the songs themselves.  This 10-verse song was originally over 25-minutes in length; needing something more feasible for album length, I took a cue from Bob Dylan and edited out half of all the instrumental breaks (originally appearing after each verse), so that the instrumental breaks follow every two verses.  Following is what fans called “Calliope Trance with Major and Minor Celestial Sections” but was officially titled “Meepy Morp” on the RSD version.  Originally an hour in length, I have reduced it down to just over three minutes to keep the album moving.  An officially unnamed track “Radiation Wind”, originally running 37 minutes and not appearing on the RSD version, is reduced to a two minute interlude before “Battling Voices From Beyond” plummets in.  This movement was originally a grueling two and a half hours, here reduced to a typical 4-minute song length.  The 10-minute and unnamed “Electronic Toy Factory” (featuring the experimental duo Pitchwafuzz), again absent on the RSD version, is again reduced to a 2-minute segue into the next track, the second lyrical-based song “In A Dream”.  Originally an hour-long, it has been reduced to 5 minutes, containing four verses, notably the ones with multi-instrumentalist Seven Drozd’s backing vocals.  Creating the midpoint of my 7 Skies H3 album is my personal favorite “Metamorphosis”.  Originally an unfathomable seven hours in length, this piece had to obviously be trimmed for my album construction.  Needing structure for this largely improvisational piece, a 13-minute epic is created when the opening and closing five minutes of its archetype vamping chord sequence sandwiches an interlude jam in Bb and Gm.   The conclusion of “Metamorphosis” is the mid-point in the 24-hour song and was originally meant to conclude the first 45-minute disc of my double album construction.  Unfortunately it did not work out this way, and the actual midpoint of my album construction is the halfway mark of “Metamorphosis” itself.  In effect, this album construction doesn’t fit on two discs evenly; I suppose that is fine, since all songs are meant to be played continuously as one piece anyways!

The third lyric-based song “Requiem” begins this (approximately) second half, originally 23 minutes in length but here edited down to a more appropriate 5 minutes.  The series of musical movements which follow are what Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne describes as “the other side of this long journey through death” and starts with the unnamed but aptly fan-titled “The Other Side”.  Originally clocking in at over an hour but eventually finding a way onto 2013's The Terror as the outro to "You Lust", I have edited it down to a 3-minute interlude for my album construction.  Next is the unnamed and fan-titled “An Outpouring of Immaculate Light from the Heavens Consumes Your Body”, originally spanning three and a half hours and completely missing from the RSD release.  In reality, the movement is a loop of the same 26-minute jam in Bb with different sets of embellishments upon each repeat (with one being played backwards).   Here I created a nearly-ten-minute epic jam, with a segment of the backwards repeat used as an interlude.  Next the officially titled “Meepy Morp (Reprise)”—also known as the fan-titled “Movement of Celestial Bodies” is edited down to just over 5 minutes from its actual length of over two hours.  “Riot In My Brain!!”, another drum-propelled freak-out jam, is reduced to a three and a half minute length from its relentless hour and a half state.  Nearing the end, “7 Skies H3 (Main Theme)”—once called “Forever Floating” by fans—is reduced from an ominous two hours to a concise six minutes, structurally utilizing two minutes of the orchestrated intro, two minutes of the guitar solo and two minutes of the ambient post-rock vocal swells.  “Can’t Let It Go” concludes this journey though death, lyrically and musically reiterating the opening track.  Originally running just under nine minutes, a six minute edit is created by removing various bits of the crescendo; in effect the build-up is no longer gradual, but immediately apparent and the track is perceived as more bombastic to end this amazing 90 minutes of music.    

320 kp3 mp3s (part 1, part 2)
Lossless FLAC (part 1, part 2, part 3)

Sources used:
The Flaming Lips 2011 #8: 7 Skies H3 (Lovely Sorts of Death Records, 16 bit wav split version)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included


  1. Track #2 is mislabeled in mp3 as track # 1. :)

  2. lol I forgot to fix that when I reupped the links.

  3. After listening to the 2018 version, I was hoping to find working links here for the 2014 version, just to have fun and compare, but links are gone. Would it be possible to re-up? Thanks so much!

    1. Wow I thought I took this whole post down four years ago!

      This shouldn't be up...