Various events well beyond the control of one small human being have made this a difficult week. A new update should wander online by Monday or Tuesday. So it seems a good time to go back to the archives, for another edition of the “Fingertips Flashback.” We reach back to the oddly long-ago year of 2005 for this one.
“Popstar Researching Oblivion” – Flotation Toy Warning
[from October 10, 2005]
“Popstar Researching Oblivion” has the sort of fully-realized ecstatic sonic goofiness that MP3 collectors like to link to the Flaming Lips but harkens more firmly back to the likes of 10cc, Genesis (yes, they actually had a sense of humor), and Queen. One of the things this quintet from London does with much aplomb is present a straightforward melody via a crazy quilt of sounds—a neat effect not unlike the more widely acknowledged pop effect of singing sad lyrics to happy music. In this case, the end result is a satisfying confusion: the ear hears complexity and simplicity overlappingly, which somehow resolves the polarity. First, the song’s basic, recurring melody, a line of lullaby-like gentleness, is introduced via a searing guitar solo (itself an interesting juxtaposition). The same melody is then re-delivered via layers of soaring and diving sounds, some vocal and some electronic and some created by who-knows-what, weaving and interacting in ways that are specifically elusive and yet link in the ear as an organic whole. Singer Donald Drusky’s earnest British tenor, recalling a somewhat huskier version of Robert Wyatt, is the perfect vocal instrument for the dreamy loopiness of it all; the homely yet graceful horns arriving to mingle with the electronics during the second half of this strangely haunting number are yet more perfect. “Popstar Researching Oblivion” comes from the band’s debut CD, Bluffer’s Guide to the Flight Deck, released in the U.S. in August on Misra Records (the CD was originally released last year in the U.K. on Pointy Records). The MP3 is available on the Misra site.
ADDENDUM: Flotation Toy Warning is not a band in a hurry. They have been in existence since 2001. Their debut album, as mentioned above, was released in 2004 in the U.K., 2005 in the U.S. Their next release was a two-sided single that came out in 2011, featuring the songs “When the Boat Comes Inside Your House” and “A Season Underground.” At the time it was reported that the band was working on its second album, to be called The Machine That Made Us. As of last June the band reported it had eleven new songs. They remain not in a hurry; the album has yet to be released.