Sunday, 11 January 2009

Flying Lotus – Los Angeles

I wrote this originaly for DiS so go and check it out over there, this is the DVD extra version before the edit. Here you go!

This year has been dominated by beats and bass for me, it’s come in many different shapes and forms from dubstep to hip-hop through a bit of minimal and back again. Warp’s Flying Lotus kind of fits somewhere between the dubstep and hip-hop, he has been firmly embraced by the two anyway.

Flying Lotus AKA Steven Ellison comes from a musical dynasty that has spawned the likes of Jazz legends Alice Coltrane and John Coltrane. He continues this legacy in fine style but in his own way of course. By melting together J Dilla style off kilter hip-hop instrumentals, some deep bass and the sampling skills of one top class crate digger, some people like to call it ‘Wonky’ others ‘Aquacrunk’ I kind of like the latter.

He is not alone in making this ‘Aquacrunk’ either there is a young and talent scene emerging with the likes of Glasgow’s Rustie, London’s Bullion and LA’s Samiyam who is singed to FlyLo’s Brainfeeder label. Hell this strange music is even breaking out of it’s BPM shackles and infecting dubstep, people like Joker, Peverelist and Kode 9 are showing signs of this sound in their own work. Kode is even working with FlyLo on some tracks on his own album, but I digress…

On with the album! Los Angeles is a delight to listen to as a whole the pieces surge into one another in a crackly soup of liquid beats and soulful vibes. Off-kilter synths play off the wonky beats to make an organic and warm sounding piece of work.

Some people may find it all quite ambient and relaxing but if your lucky enough to have caught him live on a big soundsystem then it’s very likely you have felt the full sonic force of his work and then been compelled to dance in strange new shapes that you didn’t quite know you could do.

You can’t really contain his sound in mere youtube form though to be fair, but you get the idea.

Highlights from Los Angeles include the little opener Brainfeeder which comes at you like a warm crackle drenched Burial remix of something from Kid A. Beginners Falafel is a dreamy bass ridden larva lamp of a track with a subtle and gloopy groove. Others are more beat driven like the eastern jangle of Melt! Or Camel, which also layers strings and vocal snippets to great effect. His use of drum samples really are inspired, you get electro booms offset with organic djembe or other percussion that creates a world of it’s own. GNG BNG sounds like a old school gangster film soundtrack mixed with a more subtle version of Public Enemy’s wall of noise approach. Parisian Goldfish continues in this vain too. If I had to choose one track though and only one it would be the beautiful Robertaflak, which features the vocal talents of Dolly in a moving slice of laidback jazz reminiscent of his family’s past and his hip-hop present.

There is no Post J Dilla Filla here.

Check out that very wrong video of Parisian Goldfish by Tim & Eric of Adult Swim Fame, who coincidently FlyLo makes a lot of the music for can be found here (WARNING NOT SAFE FOR EYES LET ALONE WORK! May contain nuts):

If you have been enjoying Flying Lotus and need another fix you could do worse than check out his LA EP’s one to three. The first is a collection of the odd album track and new material and the second is a killer set of remixes highlights of which include Mike Slott’s wonky monster and Martyn’s sublime version of Robbertaflak. EP three will be out next year I would imagine and I have no idea what will be on it.

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