Video: Flaming Lips' Super-Saturated Drums | What's That Sound?

Drums in the Style of Flaming Lips' Yoshimi
Drums in the Style of Flaming Lips' Yoshimi
By Reverb
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The test begins now: our first What's That Sound? episode of 2023 sees Noam and Jessica take on the super-saturated, blasted beats behind The Flaming Lips' modern psych masterpiece, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, focusing on its iconic opener "Fight Test".

The drums on Yoshimi were performed by the band's longtime multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd with Dave Fridmann behind the boards, and the setup is actually more stripped down than it sounds. We only used two mics: we used an AKG C12VR as our overhead—carefully placed directly in front of the kick and slightly off-axis—and we topped it off with a Bock Audio iFET as an outside kick mic. Noam arrived at the sound by slowly walking around the kit until he happened upon the right blend of kick (our tried-and-true 70s Gretsch), snare (a Pearl Chad Smith Signature), and hats (a pair of 14” Zildjian K-Darks).

For the kick, we used a soft beater and a FiberSkyn front head—we then leaned a pillow against both heads to gently mute them. Noam dropped a keychain between the two hats not only to mute them but to add texture to the sound. The roominess is the result of turning some of the baffles around behind the kit: rather than relying on their absorbent material, we utilized the hardwood on the other side.

There is plenty of processing on the drums, which was achieved by splitting the signal of the two microphones: one was recorded clean, while the other was run through a cheap $100 Ashly-brand graphic equalizer. The distortion provided by the EQ allowed Noam to reduce certain frequencies and shape the harmonics as he saw fit. Finally, the "dry" and the "wet" sounds were blended together to deliver distortion as well as fullness.

How did we do with this recreation? Watch the video above and hear it for yourself.

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