Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma review
Warp Records genre-bending producer extraordinaire, Flying Lotus (née Steven Ellison), returns with the follow up to his highly successful and oft imitated Los Angeles with Cosmogramma – arguably the most anticipated electronic album of 2010. And from the opening seconds of first track “Clock Catcher”, it quickly becomes evident that Fly Lo is working on a whole new level of ‘next shit’ here. This may throw some listeners for a loop at first, however, after a couple of listens you’ll begin to understand exactly why Fly Lo has described the album as his “space opera”.
The obvious stylistic difference with Cosmogramma is that it adopts a jazzier feel to it, rather than the fragmented hip-hop of Los Angeles and 1983. Its closest reference point seems to be the stuff a later Miles and Trane would have made if they had access to the technology. The album is definitively out there, and will no doubt be just as railed against as highly lauded by the critics because of this. But for this listener, it’s a fantastically heady album with amazing beats, funked-out basslines (at times reminiscent of Squarepusher), smooth jazz breaks, and overall it comes across as a much more personal recording for Ellison, as he attempts to tap into his family’s rich musical roots.
Fly Lo is nephew to Alice Coltrane, wife of John, and a highly accomplished jazz musician in her own right (read more about that in our recent interview with Ellison), and auntie Alice’s influence is in the forefront here, as he samples her playing the harp, and her son Ravi playing the saxophone throughout. His collab with Thom Yorke is fine, and will no doubt be deemed a highlight, yet tracks like “Zodiac S**t”, “MmmHmm”, “Do The Astral Plane”, and “Recoiled” are major hitters on the record, and all so very different stylistically, you just gotta hear it to believe it. The album ends with “Galaxy in Janaki”, his most hip-hop track on the album, yet instead of it being a dark and ominous closer, it features a swirling symphony, frenetic bass, and seems charged with a bright optimism for the future evolution of his sound. Next shit indeed.
Review: Matt Leslie