Music News

Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma

Let's cut the bullshit: May is going to be a huge month for new music. People are rightly circling the entire month on their calendars, frothing at the mouth in expectation of all of the quality releases due in the next 30 or so days.

Los Angeles' DJ/producer/electronic music impresario Steven Ellison, a.k.a. Flying Lotus, kicks off in strong fashion with his new album Cosmogramma

Already being labeled amongst the year's best, Cosmogramma builds off of Lotus' previous album Los Angeles. Where Los Angeles was a bit inaccessible -- yet brilliant in its own way -- Cosmogramma needs no explanation aside from simply listening the whole way through. It's a aural journey complete with Ellison's trademark electronic/glitch, experimental, hip hop and even jazz-tinged sound. The two years spent between releases for Ellison proves that the man knows his shit and didn't want to disappoint -- at all -- with his latest effort. Believe you me, he doesn't miss a single beat with Cosmogramma.

What the critics are saying:

The Guardian: "A cosmogram depicts the known limits of the universe, something Steven Ellison, who works as Flying Lotus, seems determined to take a musical tour of. Using the bass and beats of his 2008 album Los Angeles as his launch pad, Flying Lotus launches into new territories; P-funk, nu-yorica and house. Add in a dabbling in the spirit of free jazz and one might expect this album to be a wilfully discordant aural trial. But it turns out to be quite the opposite. The parts may be disparate but they are made to submit to an abiding mood of vivacity and sunniness. Adding to the sense of harmony is a graceful movement between parts and songs that's abetted by harpist Rebekah Raff, the one recurring element and a nod to the greatest influence on this album, Flying Lotus's aunt."

Drowned In Sound: "In the loose confederation of house, garage, skweee and dubstep styles presently rallied under the catch-most of bass music, competent productions are designated 'next level' at the drop of a hi-hat. FlyLo, however, is the real thing: the only thing you can be sure he'll do next, as this album makes plain, is something he hasn't done before. Cosmogramma is dense and devotional, Ellison piloting his craft into the fading slipstream of his aunt Alice Coltrane's cosmic strain of jazz. Not that it's jazz, exactly. Well, no more than it is techno, dubstep, chiptune, P-funk, IDM and, by no means least, hip-hop. In fact, it often comprises several of these styles on a single track. The lurid bitstream jumble of 'Computer Face/Pure Being', for example, flips between 2step and 4/4, playing a dizzying game of tag with dubstep and donk."

BBC Music: "Dense, multi-layered and subtly orchestral to the point Ellison has dubbed it a "space opera", exploring Cosmogramma approaches, sonically at least, attempts to unravel the fabric of the universe itself. The burbling intent of intro-length opener Clock Catcher bleeds into basstronica odyssey Pickled!, the latter driven by four-string sensation Thundercat's finger-blurring fretwork, lending a manic tone that returns on Computer Face / Pure Being. It can't fail to demand immediate attention, an interesting foreteller for an album that notches the tempo up from any prior danger of lolloping into future hip hop soundscape territory. Even ...And the World Laughs With You, a much-vaunted collaboration with Radiohead's ever-zeitgeist-riding leader Thom Yorke, zips along with relative alacrity. Cutting Yorke's familiarly paranoid strains into disorientating shapes, Ellison creditably sidesteps elevating the results to feature song status, instead abusing the vocal samples as merely another instrument in the mix."

Clash Music: "Being dubbed the 'Hendrix of hip-hop' should be an albatross around Los Angeles resident Flying Lotus's neck. If anyone can deliver with such weighty comparisons however it's FlyLo. 'Cosmogramma', the follow up to 2006's 'Los Angeles', is a self-described 'Space Opera' with the range of sounds fittingly alien and intergalactic. An album that lives and breathes in-between its many layers, 'Cosmogramma' reveals something new upon every listen with guest star Thom Yorke joining the space race alongside Outkast collaborator Miguel Atwood- Ferguson. Dense and obtuse it may be but those who follow this most intense sonic explorer will be rewarded the greatest."

Cosmogramma is out now via Warp.

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Michael Lopez