April 13, 2006
It’s been about four years since The Flaming Lips released their last album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, and I would expect they’ve had ample time to put together something of worth for their latest push forward. However, for a while it seemed like the only news I could gather of their latest release fell far short of praise.
So, with my influenced mind I approached the album and, surprisingly, found little to complain about. Though not without some imperfections, At War With The Mystics is full of very solid tracks and a progressive sound that I have yet to hear from the Flaming Lips.
Upon first listen, I immediately found myself drawn into the upbeat, full accent that characterizes the first couple tracks on the album. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs song is the opening piece, and is definitely an attention getter. This fast paced rock sound is miles away from the trippiness that constitutes a good amount of the Flaming Lips’ work. I found myself loving the song so much that it deserved at least twenty minutes on repeat.
On the other hand, I did find the lyrics to be a bit trite: “It’s a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want to.” No shit! Not exactly the most brilliant insight. Still, the song is unbelievably catchy and I consider it to be the best on the album. (Luckily, a second version of the song managed to latch onto the end of the CD.)
The second track, “Free Radicals,” is also a curious treat. I can see how one might be thrown off by the vocals, but I thought it was very impressive that lead singer Wayne Coyne could put forth a sound so much like that of Prince. The electronic rock beat is by no means groundbreaking for the group, but at the same time it is as if The Flaming Lips are having fun putting a subtle spin on their own style.
The next few songs are a bit slower, and represent a lower point of the album. “The Sound of Failure” and “Vein of Stars” are amusing, but are certainly nothing to write home about. “It Overtakes Me” and “The W.A.N.D.” sport driving bass and guitar riffs, elements that one does not often find playing leading roles in Flaming Lips tracks.
“Pompeii AM Gotterdammerung,” another of my favorite tracks, is a bit mellower but still fast paced and illustrates some innovative special effects work.
Basically, the album proceeds in a wave pattern; a little upbeat, a little mellow, and back again. I think a lack of album focus on the more novel sound of the opening tracks is the only major complaint I have. But this is nothing new coming from a band that has dabbled in an incredible array of musical genres.
I suppose I’ve made it clear that the inclusion of an upbeat ingredient to the Flaming Lips’ latest work has got me stuck on At War With The Mystics. The sound permeating through this album is not easily found elsewhere and therefore, don’t let talk of the less-than-stellar cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” bonus track fool you; this release is definitely one to be checked out.
Archived article by Blake Horn
April 13, 2006
By the way they joked and kidded with each other, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Kevin Hwang ’07, Erwin Wang ’07 and Haoming Qiu ’07 had communicated only through e-mail for two months. Or that they form the core of the Board of Directors of the Triple Helix, an undergraduate journal on science, law and society that has expanded to 14 universities across America and to at least five institutions internationally.
The journal is Hwang’s brainchild. In fall of 2004, Hwang, chief executive officer of the Triple Helix, noticed the absence of an academically viable student journal which focused on the intersections of science and society on campus.
“It’s a unique intersection of three fields previously treated as three separate disciplines,” said Eugenia Schmidt ’07, editor-in-chief of the Triple Helix chapter at Cornell. “It’s especially important in this era.”
Hwang pitched the idea of creating a journal to Wang and Qiu – only “mere acquaintances then,” according to Wang, executive production editor of the Triple Helix. Since then, the Triple Helix has multiplied exponentially in size.
“Our first expansion was the addition of two schools, Berkeley and UPenn. Our second brought us four more [MIT, Brown, Georgetown, and Columbia], and our third will bring us to around 14 chapters total,” Wang said. Hwang foresees the Triple Helix expanding to include “22 or so chapters.”
The Triple Helix’s new international chapters include Oxford and
Cambridge as well as universities in India, Australia and Singapore. Oxford was the first international university to join.
Currently the Triple Helix has a readership of 17,000 to 18,000, taking into account both the print and online PDF versions of the journal.
The Triple Helix relies on a corporate-like structure in order to produce
its journal once a semester. Since the journal was founded at Cornell, the process of producing the journal is facilitated by doing it at Cornell, according to Wang.
“We have the most experience so it’s best to have the journal centralized at Cornell,” he said.
The Triple Helix takes a three-tiered approach to leadership and divides the tasks necessary to producing the journal into three divisions: business, literary, and production. The expansion of the Triple Helix hinges on how many articles the production division can lay out in the journal.
The Board of Directors sits at the top of the structure. The production division, responsible for laying out the articles, bridges the business and literary divisions.
“Even though we’re structured like a corporation, we’re human and we’re friendly,” said Lena Kuznetsova ’07, president of the Cornell chapter. “A corporate structure makes sure everyone plays a significant role.”
Chapters at different schools are autonomous from each other.
Students’ work at the Triple Helix depends on their position: writers can take what they’ve learned in class and make it accessible for a general audience; Wang, given his position on the Board of Directors, finds it to be “an undergraduate experience in entrepreneurship;” Kuznetsova describes the Triple Helix as an “experience with the real world, if you want to be in the corporate world.”
“The Triple Helix values itself as a credible academic publication,” said
Qiu, executive editor-in-chief of the Triple Helix. “We’re not just students writing articles that don’t mean anything, we’re student science writers and journalists that contribute to the advancement of the field.”
The Triple Helix’s website treats issues pertinent to science, law, and society more casually than the journal does; it is more a forum for discussion.
But Qiu does not see the possibility of adding a blog to the site.
“We value academic rigor. Blogging is not the best way to communicate verifiable scientific information,” he said.
Chapters seeking admission to the Triple Helix face a challenging process and a chapter’s ultimate success in joining is determined by a vote, according to Hwang.
Many factors influence a chapter’s success, such as fundraising for
printing, attracting students to join, the strength of campus leaders and executive boards.
The Triple Helix will release its next issue within the next 2 to 3 weeks.
According to Schmidt, the upcoming articles broach the topics of “re-wilding North America,” “ethical issues regarding the sharing of data,” and the “patenting of genes.”
“This issue features very diverse topics and an expanded scope,” she added.
Archived article by Jessica DiNapoli Sun Staff Writer