Steven Drozd | The Heart is a Drum Machine [The Score] (Twinkle Cash)

Along with the drumbeat are crashing cymbals and unintelligible yet angelic chants that make for an uplifting song—so uplifting that it feels like you’re being blasted into space. 

 

 
 
The documentary film, The Heart is a Drum Machine, brings together musicians (including Steven Drozd’s band mate in The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne), actors and scholars to grapple with the mystery of music. They offer up ideas, feelings and information that add layers to the question of why music is magical and profound in so many ways. It all begins with the simple beating of a heart.
 
One of the best tracks on the film score is the opener, “Born,” which, you guessed it, starts off with the sound of a heartbeat. Layers of gorgeous synth are added to a tornado of beauty that swirls directly into the drum machine. Along with the drumbeat are crashing cymbals and unintelligible yet angelic chants that make for an uplifting song—so uplifting that it feels like you’re being blasted into space. 
 
The album in its entirety resembles a trip into the unknown. Whether you view it as the journey of being born into the world and all the life experiences that follow, or literally traveling through space, the musical recipe of gradual understanding is always topped with a mysterious sauce. This is all interspersed with reminders by Drozd—who constantly puts in sounds of a heart monitor and actual heartbeats—of where it all started and still remains, the heart.
 
After the short and ethereal “Flooding of Light” comes “Quaalude Youth,” which has an angsty distortion that sounds like a teenager fucking a supernova. A haunting version of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” is next, with Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer) on vocals. The acoustic guitar riffs on this cover alternate with loud thrashing sounds which, along with long hums that sound like they came straight from those perverts in masks from Eyes Wide Shut, give the song an ominous feel that doesn’t come to the surface in the original. The heart monitor beeps play throughout the song and lead into “Requiem for a Dying Star/Ode to a Twinkling New… .” The high point here is three minutes in when the beats begin to sound like someone just won on a slot machine with a psychotic DJ inside playing your congratulations. It then veers back into the sounds of deep space (if there were sounds in deep space) and darkness.
 
In the documentary, percussionist and free jazz pioneer, Milford Graves, says “Get soul, then mess with the machine, not vice-versa.” Drozd has been making music with The Flaming Lips since 1991; their sound has grown and branched into new and uncharted territories since then. After ten albums with them and his soundtrack here, it is clear he reached into his soul and pulled out a big bag of goodies that he can feed into the machine. The last few tracks are trippy and melodic and leave a sense of wonderment. There aren’t answers here, just ideas and reactions to the ongoing mystery of music. B | Alex Schreiber
 
RIYL: The Flaming Lips, Massive Attack, Brian Eno, Tool

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