Zaireeka 4 CD Listening Party | The Argent Grub

Zaireeka 4 CD Listening Party

18 Feb 2023

Zaireeka by the The Flaming LipsS

Zaireeka 4 CD Listening Party

We hosted a listening party of the Flaming Lips 1997 album, Zaireeka at Fuse Art Space yesterday. The album was released on 4 CD disks, and it needs 4 CD players to be set up so that they can all be played at once.

It also needs 4 co-ordinated people to be able to press play at more or less the same time.

The nature of the CD players, the speakers, their position and the room, means that the listening experience is constantly changing and also unique to that time and place.

Prior to the event, with the help of a few Bradford Sound Artists we’d tried to balance the output of the CD players and the speakers with pink noise that we burned to CD. One thing we learnt was that after balancing each individual speaker to a single source, then when all four speakers were in use it was much louder - d’oh.

The rehearsal was really useful for:

  • realising that would need to plug and unplug cables as we switched sound sources on the night
  • pushing us to get better cables to connect everything up
  • setting the projectors to loop play
  • finding out that one of the CD players had a habit of skipping (it seems that playing it for a while cured this)
  • finding out that another CD player worked, but you couldn’t read the display, so didn’t know which track was playing
  • realising that at any one time some of the CDs were silent so finding the time when all four were playing and loud, meant listening practically all the way through
  • getting a plan for what to do if things were so badly out of synch that it was unbearable

In the end on the night we decided to stop the CDs after each every other track to allow us ot get back into sync if we needed to bu also to let as many people as wanted to have a go at pressing ‘play’.

On the night the CD’s arrived on cushions, carried by four CD bearers in a min parade, spotlit by bicycle lights, to be loaded into the machines.

Co-ordinated by a countdown (that was later improved by Dean McPhee by both lengthening and speeding it up) the CD bearers hit play and the album began.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying it. There were lots of conversations about how this worked in a world where you can find almost anything you want online at almost anytime, and how this was quite a unique way of playing something - and how you can’t really recreate this online. Also, we talked a lot about the power of bringing people together.

Music (before and after) was pure vinyl joy, expertly spun by The Collector.

The visual backdrop for the event used the 3 ceiling projectors to throw Flaming Lips videos to the walls. We also had the Fearless Freaks documentary, and the film, Christmas on Mars.

Now we’ve done it once, it could be good to do it again…