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Embryonic

3.7 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

After lauded indie albums, The Flaming Lips debuted on Warner Bros. with 1991's Hit To Death In The Future Head. Transmissions From The Satellite Heart and Clouds Taste Metallic followed. 1999's TheSoft Bulletin topped numerous year-end best-of listsand helped rank the band among the most influential inthe world. 2002's Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots ranked #4 in Spin and #11 in NME on their end-of-yearlists, and won a Grammy. Most recently, the band's full length feature film and score album Christmas On Mars received critical acclaim at screenings across the country in 2008.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Convinced Of The Hex
  2. The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine
  3. Evil
  4. Aquarius Sabotage
  5. See The Leaves
  6. If
  7. Gemini Syringes
  8. Your Bats
  9. Powerless
  10. The Ego's Last Stand
  11. I Can Be A Frog
  12. Sagittarius Silver Announcement
  13. Worm Mountain
  14. Scorpio Sword
  15. The Impulse
  16. Silver Trembling Hands
  17. Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast
  18. Watching The Planets


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 13, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: WEA/Reprise
  • ASIN: B002MJM88O
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,894 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Owens on March 5, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I'm an old dude. Pushing 60. Spent my formative musical years in the 60's and 70's, a huge fan of groups like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, King Crimson, Yes, Traffic, Genesis, Roxy Music/Eno and more obscure groups like Gong, Camel, White Noise, Gang of Four and Le Orme. I wanted to present that perspective so you get where I'm coming from before saying I think Embryonic is a masterwork that stands up to the efforts of those vets who knew how to blend music, sound and noise into a sonic landscape that takes the listener on wonderful journeys.

Believe me, I understand that this is not everyone's cup of tea. It was never intended to be. I get it why some people might actually hate it, just like I used to get crinkled faces and jeers when I put on In the Court of the Crimson King or Topographic Oceans. But to the audience who enjoys more adventuresome opuses, who have the patience and desire to sit back, listen intently from beginning to end and just let the fun happen, this is one of the freshest, most original albums I have heard in years. Perhaps my favorite for all of 2009.
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Format: Audio CD
"Embryonic" is the sound of the Flaming Lips returning to what garnered them fame in the first place. I have always respected the Flaming Lips for dedicating themselves to exploring sound at the detriment of everything else, even it means making a song that is downright difficult to listen to. It's not about doing what's safe for the Lips, it's about shaking things up.
Their last album troubled me because it seemed that the Lips couldn't figure out what direction they wanted to take, so they ended up releasing "Yoshimi-Part Two". "At War With The Mystics" was interesting, but not conducive to their talents. "Embryonic" gleefully breaks off that path of sameness and poppy tunes with a very sparse, dark sounding record that works fantastically.
Those of you who love Can will find many reasons to welcome this album to your heart. From beginning to end "Embryonic" is a relentless, percussive affair while injecting strange guitar interruptions and sudden keyboard stabs that are as fresh as they are unsettling. Even Wayne Coyne is summoning the spirit of Damo Suzuki with his unintelligible ranting and yelling while the groove behind him keeps chugging away into unknown territory. It's a slightly primal affair in its simplicity, but Coyne pushes it farther out into space with his bizarre vocal trickery. The music wants to find space to breath, but Coyne simply won't let it as he constantly is at odds with the idea of giving the listener any sense of normalcy. It's this constant push and pull that makes this album such a damn interesting listen.
There really aren't any standout tracks on "Embryonic". The album definitely reeks of "concept" as all of the tracks flow into one another, yet Coyne's lyrics seemingly don't have much meaning which makes it all the more mysterious.
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Format: Audio CD
The Flaming Lips, for the last decade purveyors of grinning, gleeful quirk-pop, festooned by confetti and bunny suits--a recipe with initial charm but diminishing returns--have, according to Wayne Coyne, killed off their "former selves . . . Our more crafty or calculated selves. Our less brave selves . . . Our less spontaneous selves". Thus in their 26th year, the band has created what I feel is their strongest work ever: `Embryonic'. The new album borrows from the production techniques and stylistic eclecticism of their previous best, `Zaireeka,' and from the manic energy and freak-out distortion of their 80s and early-90s albums. The stylishness and cinematic scope of their most acclaimed album, `The Soft Bulletin,' is channeled into a darker, sparer, more visceral direction. The two strands combine to create their most sophisticated and at the same time most visceral work. Though there are moments of silliness and optimism, most of the cartoonish clowning ("She Don't Use Jelly," "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots") and scrubbed-clean brightness of their mainstream successes is gone.

`Embryonic's central production feature is the classic Lips technique of very heavily compressing the drums, creating a distorted, absolutely massive sound, this time devoted to more intricate and sexier beats than ever before. Other sonic "solids" are created with stabs of distorted guitar, swooping harps, distant bells, and subtle percussion. But despite these distorted and compressed elements, the music is (literally) highly dynamic, and around and between these sonic boulders and rocks is a beautiful and melodious stream of electric piano and organ, treated vocals, strings and xylophones, and ambient texture.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
You know EMBRYONIC is going to be great as soon as you hear the first minute or so of the first track, "Convinced of the Hex" -- it sounds like a higher energy update of Can's TAGO MAGO. Then follows "The Sparrow Looks Up At the Machine," another high energy track, and we are lofted into another dimension.

The album alternates brilliantly between rocking fast numbers, some with frantic drum&bass rhythms, and slower more ambient ones. The lyrics are not totally transparent, but to me they suggest a dark meditation on the illusion of free will and in particular the contradiction between A) a pantheistic sense of being one with Nature and other species and beings, and B) the realization that there is no morality in nature. In what might seem to be a twist on THE MATRIX, the imagery here of "The Machine" from which we seek liberation in Nature might actually *be* Nature, a Vast Amoral System.

This is a dark, wild trip. In the past I found what I had heard of the Flaming Lips to tend toward the precious, poppy, and cutesy. Wayne Coyne's falsetto voice in particular was not appealing. EMBRYONIC explodes out of that mold with a jagged, often dissonant, exhilarating sound!

Without a doubt one of the best albums of 2009 and of the first decade of the New Millennium.
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