What I’m Listening to: Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

31 08 2010

Steven Ellison A.K.A. Flying Lotus puts his love for Los Angeles on display

In my opinion the music industry, as with many other industries, has always stood divided.  There are forward thinking innovators, and there are those who dwell in the realm of familiarity, sexploitation, and cookie-cutter tunes designed for the masses.  It has always been a shame to me that the latter of these opposing schools of thought often earns a greater portion of air-time, money, and fame, while the innovators, the true artistic masterminds, get left in the dust: poor, broken, and forgotten.  Obviously there are those who overcome the public’s lust for awful music and find their creative niche where they can be embraced for the geniuses they are.  One such artist is Steven Ellison, better known as Flying Lotus.Before I get into detail about FlyLo’s most recent masterpiece, Cosmogramma, let me tell you a handful of things about Mr. Ellison.  He is the great-nephew of the late great John Coltrane.  During rare DJ sets Radiohead’s Thom Yorke almost always spins FlyLo.  Ellison is the musician behind a majority of “bumper music” that plays during Adult Swim on Cartoon Network (you know, the black screen, centered white typeface, and witty sarcastic programming notes).  So long story short, FlyLo has street cred like Don Draper has Rye Whiskey.

Now to the music.  To be straightforward, Flying Lotus is making the most creative music to hit the scene in years.  To classify the type of music he makes is to begin a study into the history of music itself.  Cosmogramma, FlyLo’s third LP, is a rich musical landscape, drawing influence from styles such as his great-uncle’s beloved be-bop style jazz saxophone, modern dubstep, house, and african tribal music.  The result is a polyrhythmic cacophony of dance music that is hard to dance to, relaxing jazz interludes, and club bangers.  “Do the Astral Plane” is a creative dance tune with a straightforward beat and unique vocal samples, which is sure to get your toes tapping on a Friday night.  The aforementioned Mr. Yorke makes a guest vocal appearance on “…And the World Laughs With You”, a lo-fi, zone-out track featuring a hypnotizing dubstep style bass.  My one and only gripe with FlyLo’s music is that all of his songs are too short.  The end section of “…And the World Laughs With You” is one of the high points of the album, and it lasts no more than twenty seconds.

“Table Tennis” (Featuring Laura Darlington) is another standout track.  The sampled sounds of ping-pong balls, along with the pulsating bass and beatiful harp strokes create a breathing soundscape canvas for Ms. Darlington to paint her soulfully smooth voice on.  The song breaks down to end with acoustic guitar arpeggios and Darlington’s voice drowned in reverb, leaving more to be desired as always.

My favorite track on the album is “Drips/Auntie’s Harp”, which is basically a reinterpretation of the more orchestral “Intro/A Cosmic Drama”.  Play them one after the other and it’s easy to see how they fit together.  The sounds FlyLo created are like nothing I have ever heard.  I don’t think he ever recycles so much as a shaker sound, but when it comes to his synths, “Drips/Auntie’s Harp” is an example of the range Ellison has.

Cosmogramma is the epitome of creative music in this day and age.  Whether you need background music for doing work, something to work out or dance to, or simply something to take your mind off the world as it stands, Flying Lotus has what you are looking for, and his first two albums are every bit as amazing as the third.  This album earns my highest recommendation.  Here’s a good place to get started: Flying Lotus – Do the Astral Plane http://awe.sm/59Z0O

Key Tracks: …And the World Laughs With You, Drips/Auntie’s Harp, Do the Astral Plane, Satelllliiiiiiiteee.

You Might Also Like: Thievery Corporation, RJD2, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Radiohead

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5 responses

8 09 2010
jacob walsh

I LOVE this album…can’t wait for his new EP to drop

8 09 2010
miike t

He got pretty angry about that aqua-crunk blog post yesterday haha

8 09 2010
cooltrane

FlyLo makes me wanna get low…It’s dancin time!

9 09 2010
Larraine

how cool was it of him to answer all those questions on twitter yesterday?!

9 09 2010
thommy

Wish i couldve seen him at north coast last weekend 😦

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