Tag Archives: flying lotus


Thunder Lotus Over/Under


FlyLo “Putty Boy Strut”

Quiet No More



Flying Lotus “See Thru 2 U” 


Lotus With Earl and the Captain 

Songs, not space, on FlyLo’s Until The Quiet Comes 


Flying Lotus Offers Us A Summer Present

Flying Lotus Offers Us A Summer Present

Has It Been A Year Already?


It’s not every artist that tries to map the dimensions of the universe (the literal function of a cosmogram), so let’s consider Flying Lotus’ sprawling electronica essay Cosmogramma a unique item. Lotus, aka Steve Ellison, has been tilting towards such eloquence for a few years now. His 1983 and Los Angeles discs sketched out an synth ‘n’ sample realm that put a personal spin on dub-step drama while alluding to the rings around Saturn and the traffic snarls on the 405. Cosmogramma compounds all the surrealism that laced its predecessors, coming through like an unholy blend of Cluster, Spring Heel Jack, and Christian Marclay. Consider it the latest edition of Cali psychedelia.

Jazz fans are taking note because the music’s orchestral girth delivers a thrill that parallels free jazz’s expressionism. There’s no cacophony here – though he finds uses for dissonance, Lotus likes his dreamscapes to be a tad more tempered – but the labyrinth of textures and rhythmic implosions delivers a steady stream of peaks. The pastoral segments allude to the shimmering work of Ellison’s aunt, Alice Coltrane (as well as Pharoah Sanders’ “Astral Traveling”), and cousin Ravi Coltrane injects some narcotic tenor sax on “German Haircut” and “Arkestry.” But don’t expect a star turn. Ultimately his horn is just another part of the pastiche, like Thom Yorke’s recitations and the samples of Lotus’ late mother’s hospital respirator. He deems this headphone opus – one of 2010’s best – a space opera. Consider the pod bay doors open.


Old Thom may be lost in dreamy dissonance when it comes to R’head. But he likes the racket of a club now and then. Especially with his pal Lotus. 

10 Best Pop Albums of 2010

Always in flux, right up until the pixels are dry. Come back tomorrow and a couple titles might be gone, making way for different ones – like Big Boi or Janelle Monae.  Guess that means it was a strong year. Actually, come back tomorrow and you’ll find the 10 Best Jazz Albums list. Rhapsody has everything below.

Sleigh Bells   Treats (Mom & Pop)

The cheerleader chirps, the Tron-tastic guitar licks, and the boom boom pow their computers created – call it racket as relief, or explosions as entertainment, and kick yourself for not coming up with the idea: you shoulda known that crossing the Ting Tings with the Boredoms woulda been a righteous move.

The National   High Violet (4AD)

Their interest in gray atmospheres borders on obsession, but their dedication to rhythm buoys all the gloom. Drummer Bryan Devendorf uses everything from primal tom-tom pummels to “Theme From Shaft” high hat rolls to widen the music’s emotional scope and charge singer Matt Berniger’s perpetual sorrow.  Their great subjects may well be solitude and sympathy, but they approach them with big hearts and open arms.

No Age   Everything In Between (Sub Pop)

On their third disc, the L.A. noise rock duo cleaves a chunk of the sonic debris that marked their early work and chips their way towards eloquence. That doesn’t mean this stuff is pristine, of course. Fuzz, dissonance and drones still surround the cloudy vocals. But their integration is architecturally insightful and – here’s the best part – emotionally powerful.

Das Racist   Sit Down, Man (mixtape)

Syllables bounce off each other like Orville Redenbacher kernels popping in the microwave. Meanings morph a mile a minute. Rhymes are turned inside out and upside down. The Brooklyn trio takes their clever pills before grabbing the mics, and like their lyrical (not musical) forbears the Beasties, they pump a non-stop parade of images that feels like the pages of a dictionary being flipped.

Vampire Weekend    Contra (XL)

Button-down brainiacs have a right to get their grooves on, too. And when it’s done with the kind of panache these dapper post-grads bring to the table, there’s plenty to celebrate. Their tunes get over on individuality, not mood. And whether they’re bouncing to ska, clicking on the Autotune, or riding a West African guitar lick, they’re just as engaging as this preppy band is privileged.

The Fall   Your Future, Our Clutter (Domino)

Always had my fingers crossed that toothless crank Mark E. Smith wasn’t a goner, and this gnarled little comeback is a testament to hanging in there. The 53-year-old singer’s latest crew employs the typical Fall formula: add abstract declamation and hazy non-sequiters to fragged-riff guitar rock and booming drums. In some ways it’s wildly primal. In some ways it’s wildly arty. Boasting some of rock’s most idiosyncratic wordplay, Mark E. is going to turn into William Burroughs yet.

Flying Lotus   Cosmogramma (Warp)

Consider this sprawling electronica essay a unique addition to the canon of Cali psychedelia. There’s no cacophony here – Lotus likes his dreamscapes to be a tad more tempered – but the labyrinth of textures and rhythmic implosions delivers a steady stream of peaks, and from Thom Yorke’s murmurs to Ravi Coltrane’s shrieks, everything finds its place.

The Black Keys   Brothers (Nonesuch)

It takes a bit of sophistication to convincingly act like a caveman. Those thuds have to be judiciously placed, and the moans need to have meaning. Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach have reached the point where their garage-nurtured primal chic has a bit of grace to it. Maybe it was the Muscle Shoals recording session. Down there it’s “get hot or go home,” so no wonder this thing sounds like Prince plugging in with the White Stripes.

Kanye West    My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-a-Fella)

He’s more than just a “Chi-Town nigga with a nice flow” – that’s for sure. Indeed, he’s a wildly ambitious workaholic who conceived this tribute to his manic creativity knowing that it’s also responsible a handful of douche bag moments. From Rick Ross to Nicky Minaj, the guests have some key moves, but Yeezy’s the main attraction. His Cecil B. DeMille aesthetics makes this circus of self-scrutiny a cinematic triumph.

Tom Zé   Estudando o Bossa (Luaka Bop)

I’d almost forgotten how addictive the whimsical Brazilian’s ditties have always been – five years have passed since his last domestic disc, and if I recall correctly, it wasn’t as wondrous as his history would suggest. This investigation into bossa nova is, though. It’s because the froggy-voiced 70-year-old is incapable of squelching his idiosyncrasies. So the trad strums of bossa are here, but they’re bent to fit a personality proud of its quirks.