The Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne’s ‘King’s Mouth’: From PNCA installation to Flaming Lips album

The new Flaming Lips album is deeply connected to an installation earlier this year at PNCA's Gallery 511


The Flaming Lips’ latest album King’s Mouth: Music and Songs was released April 13 in a limited-edition gold vinyl pressing of 4,000 copies for Record Store Day and will receive a worldwide release in all formats (digital, CD, vinyl, etc.) through Warner Bros. on July 19. Although music critics are heralding the album as a return to form that recaptures some of the magic of the Lips’ most lauded albums—The Soft Bulletin (1999) and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)—the record has an unconventional origin in an interactive art installation that was featured prominently at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland.

“The King’s Mouth” was on display at The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA from November 2, 2017 to January 6, 2018. During that time people of all ages came to have a transportive experience inside the school’s 511 gallery.

The walls surrounding the exhibit were lined with Flaming Lips creative force Wayne Coyne’s illustrations depicting the mystical story of a King, his giant silver head, and the rainbow denizens of his imaginary realm. Each of these images would go on to inspire a song on the album.

Wayne Coyne’s “The King’s Mouth” inspired the new Flaming Lips album—and was installed at PNCA’s 511 Gallery late last year./Photo courtesy PNCA

“The King’s Mouth” itself is a giant silver head with a gaping mouth and a pink, spongy tongue. You are invited to crawl inside into a cozy cavern where you can lay back and gaze upward at strands of lights synched up by Sachem Arvidson, a multimedia artist specializing in digital LED lighting design, to music masterminded by the multi-instrumentalist and core member of the Flaming Lips, Steven Drozd. The music builds from rhythmic and pulsing, to booming and rousing, with mesmeric lighting to match. If you stay for the duration, “The King’s Mouth” provides a phantasmagoric journey lasting around ten-minutes from start to finish.