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“Flying Lotus must go beyond the expected”
There may be an abundance of stars in electronic music, but few have received the praise Flying Lotus has. Since his 2006 debut 1983, the Los Angeles producer has been begetting a new era in music where analogue sounds sit among twisted and distorted electronic samples and hi-fi residue is as integral to the music as a long piano solo. FlyLo hasn’t pioneered electronic sounds, his label mates Autechre or Aphex Twin beat him to it by a decade or so, but his fusion of vinyl crackles and electronic sound residue, tainted by barely traceable hip-hop roots, renders his music unique – and immensly popular. Flying Lotus’ third full-length Cosmogramma continues his quest to connect the new with the old, taking us off the planet momentarily while doing so.
Cosmogramma has a particular connection to the free jazz music that his great aunt Alice Coltrane and her husband John pioneered. Anachronisms of the genre are present throughout the album, whether through the frenetic bass on ‘Pickles’ or the seductive ‘Auntie’s Harp’, reminding us that what his ancestors were doing in the 1960’s, Flying Lotus is doing now – only in an altered form.
‘… And the World Laughs With You,’ which features Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, is the closest thing to a lead single that can be found on the album. A patchwork of influences and components, Yorke’s contribution to the track is subtle, with just a few skewed segments of his recording appearing and re-appearing over the treading, electronic beat. Moments after the triumphant trumpet section takes over from the vocals, it is swarted by an onslaught of electronic noises; FlyLo must go beyond the expected.
The gradual build-up of the soothing yet danceable ‘Do the Astral Plane’ was probably conjured up in minutes on whatever hardware was available to FlyLo at the time, who added ambient keys to the hypnotic synth as he went along. ‘German Haircut’ is an exercise in free jazz which then translates into ‘Recoiled’, where the classic jazz drums under the saxophone solo are gradually torn to shreds and we end in a familiar electronic grittiness. The sequence is entirely logical: first came jazz, then a video-gaming generation, and now their synthesis.
An avant-garde offering, Cosmogramma toys with genre conventions to try an lure as many as possible into the timeless and endlessly creative realm that Flying Lotus inhabits. The album is impressively eclectic, but also cohesive. After 50 minutes and a musical journey whose path could not have been foreseen, not even by the producer himself, we have heard nothing but groundbreaking music. Who can catch up?
Words Sven Carlsson