Embryonic came about in a way that is unusual, even for The Flaming Lips. Once inspiration struck, the band of mavericks decided it was time to record some new material, only without the studio setting or the standard track-by-track construction of songs. Instead, The Flaming Lips crowded into guitarist and drummer, Steven Drozd’s house and began a seemingly infinite succession of improvised jam sessions. The time spent noodling on guitar, improvising melodies, and playing by ear led to the creation of the demo recordings for the tripped-out double album Embryonic. The majority of these tracks, neither edited nor changed, became final songs that can be heard on the album.
This musical approach is normally unappealing, but listeners will be pleasantly surprised when they hear the euphonic sound of Embryonic. Heavy bass punctuates Coyne’s dreamlike voice as it almost drowns in the music, while trembling high hats and electronic beats provide the melody for tracks like “The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine,” a track fairly reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Guitarist Drozd supplies each strange song with a dynamic range of sounds, his guitar reverberating from echoing chords to blunt twangs to guitar solos sometimes akin to those of Led Zeppelin. And with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and MGMT contributing to the songs “I Can Be A Frog” and “Worm Mountain” respectively, the album is truly a collection of some of the most distinctive and daring musicians and sounds in rock music today.
The Flaming Lips have successfully encapsulated the sound and style of various musicians, genres, and improvisations, and transformed them into Embryonic, an album that can only be described as a wild ride.