Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FLYING LOTUS: COSMOGRAMMA



Flying Lotus
Cosmogramma
Warp Records

My brain is a scrambled mess, dislocated by an assault of experimental hip-hop, jazz, dubstep and electronic schizophrenia. Laptop musicians, that's what they're called these days. And Flying Lotus - aka FlyLo, aka Steven Ellison - is one the best. His first album's called 1983 (the year he was born). His second's called Los Angeles (the town he was born in). So what's Cosmogramma? The futuristic space city he wants to retire to? The grammar of the cosmos?

To illustrate the kind of respect Flying Lotus commands from hip weirdos, Cosmogramma guest appearances include Radiohead's Thom Yorke, harpist Rebekah Raff, string arrangement extraordinaire Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and saxophone player, and cousin, Ravi Coltrane (son of legendary saxophone duo John and Alice Coltrane).

But the standout guest collaborator is bassist Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner. On track two, "Pickled!," he sounds like a bass monster gobbling a fretboard. I pictured a big black dude with a five string. And thanks to Google Images, that's what I got. Only he was wearing a Suicidal Tendencies cap - he's played for them since 2002. Stereotype that!

If I was a rapper, Flying Lotus is the guy I'd beg to make my beats. Because in-between all the pulsing lazers, euphoric "space opera," syrupy lounge/club licks, throbbing dubstep and ping pong balls, Ellison's crammed Cosmogramma with the spirit of jazz - it's got soul. It's cinematic, borderless... an electronic, textured and atmospheric dubstep hybrid that seems to get weirder and more "avant-garde" the further down the rabbit hole you go. It's more free flowing and operatic than his previous albums. More experimental. Weirder. But like Dr. Frankenstein said, "It's alive!"

Links:

Order Cosmogramma from Amazon.com
Warp Records
FlyingLotus.com
Flying Lotus on MySpace

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