With their Heady Fwends project, The Flaming Lips opened their studio to all-comers, from Nick Cave to Yoko Ono and Ke$ha, for a mish-mash of a collaboration that stands in stark contrast to this album proper. Off the back of the Fwends sessions, exhausted in the early hours of the morning, the Lips retreated into their studio – and themselves – for a very different, meditative beast.
The Terror descends upon the listener as a doomy patchwork of drones, grooves and chants, airborne non-melodies and snatches of musique concrète. As frontman Wayne Coyne notes, it’s a “completely self-indulgent” attempt to capture “every sound, every word as it happened in this ‘sleepwalker’s dimension’”. Fittingly, the results are, at times, as ethereal as such a dream state. One listen can follow another with precious little to grab onto; and while there’s an allure that keeps drawing you back in the hope of parsing something new, ultimately, little sticks in the mind for long.
The Lips’ idiosyncratic take on death and paranoia was given universal appeal with 2002’s Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots; despite its expansive sound, The Terror isn’t as inviting. There’s nothing to dislike about their creeping dread, but it’s hard to engage with it.