Leaving Genres Behind to Explore New Stratospheres
After dropping numerous delicious EPs in the wake 2008’s Los Angeles, Flying Lotus (aka Steven Ellison) has stated that he finally has the time “to make the kind of records that I want to make, that I wanted to make when I was younger; things that I dreamed about making. It’s this fusion-y kind of thing where all the elements of the music that I love are there.” For his highly anticipated new full-length, Cosmogramma, FlyLo gets a little help from fellow noise enthusiast and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke in addition to some of his harmoniously predisposed friends to do just that.
Upon pressing play on Cosmogramma, listeners are instantly bombarded with waves of organized confusion on opener “Clock Catcher,” including pulsing synths, drum machines, and harps. During this short but potent obliteration of genres (jazz, dubstep, trip-hop), Ellison’s followers will quickly notice yet another trademark FlyLo departure into uncharted musical territory. However, this track and others like it on the record are short and bittersweet for it.
On “… And the World Laughs with You,” we hear the return of Flying Lotus as the classic minimalist, with harp by Rebekah Raff, strings by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Thundercat on bass and… is that Thom Yorke singing? It’s hard to believe Yorke didn’t have a hand in the production of this one when the track even sounds like a computerized Radiohead ditty you might find on Kid A. Later, Thundercat steps up to the mic on “Mmm Hmm” and Daedelus’ other half, Laura Darlington, sings on “Table Tennis.” Both provide some smooth vocals. “Galaxy in Janki” wraps the album up nicely with a sexy, downtempo drum and synthesized fadeout.
Initially a tad frightening, Cosmogramma comes on a bit strong. Once they get past the series of pseudo-jazz sounds, however, listeners will discover its creamy center, which is full of funky beats, alluring strings, surprising guest vocals and, as we’ve come to expect from artists like Flying Lotus, the ever changing definition of the term “genre.”