Steven Drozd — The Heart Is a Drum Machine
The Flaming Lips are incredibly self-contained; the members rarely do side projects. So it’s with great interest that multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd’s score for the music documentary “The Heart Is a Drum Machine” appears, as the Lips’ resident music genius hasn’t released his own stuff (ignoring studio work for other bands) since joining the group in 1991.
The great answer to “What does a Flaming Lip sound like outside the band?” is “pretty freakin’ great, actually.” Some sounds will be very familiar to Lips fans, like the guitar tone on “Quaalude Youth” and synths similar to the lush instrumental tracks of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” but Lip-esque sounds do not comprise the bulk of the album. Instead, Drozd gets down to Soundtrack 101, churning out tunes that are long on mood and short on vocals.
The calm, melodic songs spread the heavy lifting between guitar, synthesizer and piano. “Get On” has a huge, noisy synth to hold attention; “Born” features an organ that drives an epic feel without getting overblown. Standout track “Requiem for a Dying Star/Ode to a Twinkling New …” is a hip and interesting reinterpretation of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” A kids’ song has never sounded so cool. Many of these numbers beg for emotional narration; they’re songs, but they’re also score.
These tracks are stellar, worth checking out even apart from the film for which they were commissioned. —Stephen Carradini