Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma

Artist: Flying Lotus

Title: Cosmogramma
Release date: May 3
Label: Warp Records

A while back, a reader posted a comment on one of my Nothing Not New posts asking why I continued to listen to electronic/laptop music even though I don't care for it all that much.

Well, first of all, in the spirit of the project, I'm supposed to listen to a lot of different and new things and react to it. Second, if I listen to enough of it, perhaps I'll learn to appreciate it and even like some of it.

It's true that most of the electronic acts I've listened to and written about this year did not little to move me. But, given that it's not my cup of tea, Flying Lotus really isn't too bad.
At the very least, Cosmogramma is an interesting listen, especially when Flying Lotus (a one-man-band, by the way) incorporates elements of jazz into his computer-generated music. On album's midway point, "Arkestry," surely a nod to free-jazz pioneer Sun Ra, great snare drum fills and tenor saxophone runs suddenly bring the album back to a more organic place. Two songs later, "Do the Astral Plane" features scat singing and has a spacey jazz feel under its Eastern melody.

I like the sense that anything can happen in a Flying Lotus. He takes a wide-open approach to the music. Nothing is constrained here.

To me, so much of the music in this genre feels self-indulgent, but Flying Lotus seems to have the listener in mind on Cosmogramma. He's also a good editor, giving us digestible, single-length glimpses into his fertile imagination and fitting 17 songs onto a 42-length record. For good measure, the annoying singer from Radiohead appears on the song "...And the World Laughs With You" (no surprise that the 5 minute, 27 second song is nearly the longest and is the least compellling tune on the record. Someday in the next 7.5 months, maybe I'll write about my top overrated acts of all time . . . yes, Radiohead is on the list).

Anyway, if you're feeling adventurous and wanna dip your toe into the deep end of electronic music, I'd say Flying Lotus is a good place to start. It's really not too bad and is much better than, say, Caribou. 

By the way, I'm still waiting for a reader to explain to me what they like so much about this kind of music as opposed to more conventional popular-musical idioms.

Best song: "Arkestry"
Rotation: Low
Deja vu: In the movies, a swanky poolside party at some Hollywood Hills mansion.
I'd rather listen to: Sun Ra
Grade: B-

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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