Monday, May 24, 2010

REVIEW: Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma [Warp Records]

Here is my review of Flying Lotus' new album Cosmogramma on Warp Records, written for Big Up Magazine's Issue 7.


Flying Lotus // Cosmogramma // Warp Records

Flying Lotus returns on the mighty Warp Records with his second full-length, Cosmogramma, undoubtedly his strongest and most original work yet. From the first second of the record, it immediately grabs you by the shoulders and like the force of gravity, you plummet into his world with an intense sixty seconds of electro-acoustic hybrid mash, quickly followed by a two minute jam-out of fractured drum & bass and fretted bass noodlings. The third track shoves you even further, pummeling your ears with an ascending fat bass pulse, chopped-up drums and spacious strings. Try to think of this as your (dis-)orientation, clearly intended to knock you off your conventional shoes and prepare you for what’s to come, as it should have.

At track four, you’re plunged into a beatless space, carried forth by celestial violins and cascading harps, cueing the album’s actual beginning. It kicks off into a series of bass-heavy hip-hop machinations, showing us the Flying Lotus that we’ve come to know so well. Its highlights are “Computer Face//Pure Being”, a phantasmagorical derivation of bitted Nintendo music, seamlessly traversing into the 4/4 roller, “And The World Laughs With You”, caressed by the soothing vocals of Thom Yorke, growing progressively glitched-out as it putters along. Other standout tracks are “Mmmhmm” featuring the tranquil lyricism of Thundercat, and “Satellliiiiteee”, a crunked-out opus with pitch-shifted Lil Wayne-style vocals.

What’s really impressive about this album is not only how Steven Ellison has further perfected his signature sound electronically with mysterious synthesis and sampling, but has also enhanced it with organic flavors such as fusions of jazz saxophone and guitar, as well as original vocalists. The result clouds the contour between electronic and traditional acoustic music, begging you simply to simply let your brain absorb it, without a thought of “what” or “how”. This is a true sign of an accomplished musician. It doesn’t seek to elude classification, but effortlessly does so of itself. A great example of this is “Do The Astral Plane”, a somewhat house-like track beginning with straight up scat-talk, a spirited square-wave bassline, and a vivid string arrangement.

Flying Lotus’ tracks are enriched by sounds that can’t even be described; soft layers that don’t grab your attention, but you hear only when you’re blasting it loud and listening closely, almost playing tricks on your mind. The energy flow of this record is rather irregular too, beginning at full throttle, and progressing downwards, as if you’ve taken a toke of some amazing substance and are listening to the soundtrack of it being gradually processed by your receptors until you return to waking reality. The only problem is the album feels too short; each track leaving you wishing it had lasted a little longer. Still, that’s the beauty of being able to experience it all over again, and perhaps encounter something that you hadn’t before.

-Alex Incyde


Buy it HERE.

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