What an amazing and well-deserved rise to fame and recognition it has been for the super-gifted Los Angeles producer/musician Flying Lotus, who performs for free at 7pm tonight (May 6th) at Amoeba Music Hollywood in support of his highly recommended brand new album Cosmogramma.
Only a matter of years ago the now globally respected FlyLo (as he is fondly known by fans, but was born Steven Ellison 26 years ago) was clocking hours as an intern at Stones Throw Records and, in between doing mundane mail room chores, was just trying to get people to listen to his demo instrumental hip-hop productions.
Fast forward to 2010 and he has just completed a US tour (that culminated in a celebrated Coachella set) opening for Thom Yorke's Atoms For Peace. Yorke, a major fan, personally chose FlyLo for the much coveted opening act slot just as he had hand-picked another California producer, DJ Shadow, to open for Radiohead many years back. Not only that, but Yorke also supplies guest vocals on Cosmogramma on one of the album's many jaw-droppingly brilliant tracks. The album, the artist's fourth release and his third for the respected Warp Records label (following 2008's Los Angeles & the previous year's the Reset EP -- his 2006 debut full-length was 1983 on Plug Research), was released on Tuesday this week Stateside (Monday in the UK). And if you don't already have it, go cop it right now at Amoeba. Better still, if you are in Southern Cali today, head over to the Amoeba on Sunset for the instore so that a year and more from now you can gloat to friends, "Oh yeah. I seen em play at Amoeba for free back in the day!"
Flying Lotus "And The World Laughs With You (feat. Thom Yorke)"
Los Angeles was a damned great album but Cosmogramma is simply an amazing collection of varied sounds (from seductive dreamy-yet-dark layered grooves to raw free-jazz styled drums) that will instantly draw you in and not let go. My personal faves include like the moody "...And The World Laughs With You," on which FlyLo's production perfectly compliments the distinctive voice of the Radiohead vocalist. I also enjoy the hypnotic "Nose Art," and the beautifully twisted, quirky and sped-up vocal laced sound of "Satelllliiiiiteee." The new album, as outlined in an excellent article in the LA Times two days ago, took Daddy Kev (founder of the Wednesday weekly Low End Theory party in LA that FlyLo was oft associated with) an unusually long four full months to master. It was well worth it -- the record is pitch-perfect from start to finish. No filler here.
Labeling the music of FlyLo, whose great-aunt is Alice Coltrane, is a tough thing to do. Labeling any artist's music is difficult, and as we know, descriptions often vary from decade to decade and from wave to wave. Had this been the mid-nineties Flying Lotus would be labeled "trip-hop." Now he is being described as many things, from "downtempo electronic" to "instrumental hip-hop" to "eclectic laptop musician/producer" to "jazz-infused and beat-centric" to even "that guy who made tracks for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim." And while all of these tags are actually accurate, if I try to describe the artist's sound to someone who'd never heard him, I would choose to say that he creates lush "cinematic" sounds that will sweep you up and embrace you against the cold outside world. Or I would simply say that his sound is Flying Lotus. And I will bet money that by the end of this year, when his new album is on every critic's year end best-of list, that up-and-coming instrumental hip-hop or electronic producers will be labeled "the new Flying Lotus."
Flying Lotus "Nose Art"
Tonight Flying Lotus plays for free at Amoeba Music Hollywood. 7pm showtime but get there early to ensure a good spot. And next week on Friday & Saturday (May 14 & 15) the artist performs at the Echoplex at 1154 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026