Friday, 21 May 2010

Cosmogramma // Flying Lotus // (warp)

Flying Lotus' process for creating this album seems almost absurdly simple. Take some jazzy instrumentation, a pinch of synth, and pin it to some thumping beats taken from anywhere on the dance music spectrum and scramble them all together. Simple. Too simple to work, even.

On the first listen, however, it is clear that Flying Lotus has undertaken a seriously complex proposition, and secondly, and more importantly; that it works so well. Throughout the LP spectral electronics weave around live sax and bass - all the time anchored to that incessant thumping beat, but never clashing. FlyLo plays the inherent intensity of the videogame sounds against the laid back, sweeping strings to create an ethereal atmosphere. At times he disposes element to reveal the other, flipping the mood from calm and starry-eyed to aggressively dancey in an instant. The tunes are often chaotic, but the rhythms act as a guide through the noise while the melodies spiral away: you never feel like it gets too much to be fun.

For an ostensibly electronic musician, signed to Warp and with releases on Hyperdub, some of the best moments on Cosmogramma are the raw and organic live sax, harp and bass from the superbly talented Thundercat, making the album more immediately penetrable than with the mechanical noises that dominate the myriad electronic music the record takes influences from. His aunt, Alice Coltrane, has had a very clear influence on the FlyLo, he has re-contextualised the unpredictable improvisation and pure passion of the live instruments in an harsh, rigid environment, creating something that seems so unique yet so obvious that it is strange it has never been done (at least successfully) before.

The album works as a cohesive whole, the individual songs often seem like arbitrary delimitations. That said, ...And the World Laugh With You stands because of Thom Yorkes presence, but his vocals are sampled and manipulated, showing FlyLo has not let Yorkes celebrity override his artistic vision, which would be all to easy to do. Do The Astral Plane also screams attention, and is the best example of his apparent disregarding of any concept of genre, featuring scat, swooping strings, crunching synth whilst remaining incredibly dancey.

With Cosmogramma Flying Lotus has crammed an immense amount of ideas, rhythms, beats and instrumentation into 45 minutes. The most staggering thing is that, despite the layering and complexity of it all it somehow is so accessible and immediate; the hooks will be caught in your head for days, whilst offering so much to listen to that it also has immense re-playability. FlyLo said that he wished to create a space opera with the album, but the journey through the stars that it takes you on is so knowingly fun that it seems much more like a space panto.

Flying Lotus - Zodiac Shit by sopedradamusical

Flying Lotus - Computer Face, Pure Being by inertiamusic

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