By camden andrews | May 25th, 2010
There’s a good chance you’ve already heard the hype for Flying Lotus’s new album by now. If you’ve ignored it, don’t. This is the real deal. For those of you who haven’t: Flying Lotus, or Steven Ellison, is an experimental electronic producer who’s beats you might recognize form Adult Swim’s trippy late night image freezes in between commercials. ”Cosmogramma” is his third full-length release, which Warp Records has been calling a “space opera.” As most of this album is instrumental, your guess is as good as mine for what that’s supposed to mean, but “Cosmogramma” does sound like it could have been made by jazzy aliens.
As the nephew of Alice Coltrane, it’s not surprising to hear some strong free jazz avant-garde sensibility at the base of this album. It’s pretty hard to escape comparison when you’ve got big-name relatives, but Ellison’s blazing his own trails rather than riding coattails. “Cosmogramma” risks falling into the shadows of not just aunty Coltrane, but of big name guests like Thundercat, Laura Darlington, and Thom Yorke, and yet FlyLo’s production stays at the center of attention throughout. Yorke’s voice in “…And the World Laughs With You” is just another piece of the intricately woven layers of sound, no more prominent than the twitchy beat or the gliding melancholy strings.
The most impressive part about “Cosmogramma” is Ellison’s effortless command of chaos.With all the blips, glitches, static, and a wide variety of real instruments including saxophone, bass, harps, strings, analog synths, and even ping-pong balls, there is an undeniable cohesion not just in each individual song, but in the album as a whole. Unlike 2008’s Los Angeles, which felt like a collection of fragments, “Cosmogramma” is a complete idea. Each track slides into the next as if he created the album as one long piece and split up the individual tracks as he saw fit. Maybe this is one for the echo chamber, but we can’t ignore this album. Three weeks since its official release, it just keeps getting better.