Review: Flying Lotus- Cosmogramma
Since releasing the tremendous Los Angeles LP in 2007, Flying Lotus has helped the founding of Brainfeeder records, led a huge serge in popularity for LA based electronic beat music and has gained an almost god like status amongst many experimental music fans. So, when news broke that he would release his new album, it was almost expected that the record would be a masterpiece.
Described by Flying Lotus as his ‘Star Wars’, Cosmogramma is a real epic, in which the music flows from one jam to another through a sea of delightful melodies and other worldly sounds, as something designed to be listened to all at once. The album features an enviable cast of extras including the hugely gifted Thundercat (bass guitar), Rebekah Raff (harp), Ravi Coltrane (tenor sax), Thom Yorke and Laura Darlington to name a few. So naturally, the album incorporates a huge variety of genre’s and sounds, making it very dense and hectic at times, which can be slightly overwhelming. However it is all so beautifully layered and is a sum of many incredible parts, that after a few listens you will start to hear something new every time, making it potentially very addictive.
The album kicks off aggressively with Clock Catcher, Pickled! and Nose Art, three tracks including a lot of hard synthesis and some improvised bass guitar, over glitchy electronic beats and noises. Soon it lulls into a nostalgic wave of classical strings and harp, before the introduction of the wondrous Zodiac Shit, a stomach churning arrangement of strings, hums, wobbles and snappy percussion.
As Cosmogramma reaches it’s half way point, the upbeat, synth led Computer Face//Pure Being is followed by possibly the most hyped track on the album, ..And The World Laughs With You a somewhat chilled track boasting some delightfully vague and droney vocals from Radioheads Thom Yorke.
The second half of Cosmogramma is where it really sets itself apart as a masterpiece. In Arkestery, German Haircut and Recoiled, with the help from Steve Ellisson’s cousin Ravi Coltrane on tenor saxophone, elements of free jazz are infused with electronic noises and soundscapes to stunning effect. In between those tracks is the fabulous dance track Do The Astral Plane, which creatively uses improvised vocals to create melody and rhythm. Other tracks, Table Tennis (featuring Laura Darlington) and Dance of the Pseudo Nymph also stand out, through their originality and delicate arrangement. Finally, this trippy epic comes to an end with Galaxy In Janaki, a reflective track which finishes the album in a very satisfactory and optimistic manor.
In Cosmogramma, Flying Lotus, has made a big step-up from his previous album Los Angeles, to produce a magnificently dense, atmospheric and original cosmic masterpiece that justifies all the hype and expectation. Though it won’t please everyone, Cosmogramma is Flying Lotus’ career defining record so far, and is well worth a listen.