Release Date: Sep 21, 2010
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Rap, Club/Dance, Turntablism
So it seems that the other week we (by which I mean journalists, Drowned in Sound journalists in particular) got on Flying Lotus’ nerves a little. Now I’m not going to go into that whole furore here, but suffice to say we can learn one thing from FlyLo’s aquacrunk-inspired twitter diatribe: Steven Ellison doesn’t like people trying to categorise his music (particularly not as, err... aquacrunk).
Does Steven Ellison ever sleep? Most artists would take some time off after releasing a record as all-out, balls-to-the-wall ambitious as this year's dazzling Cosmogramma, his most recent full-length as Flying Lotus. Yet here we are three months later, with a new EP, the seven-track Pattern + Grid World. Between this and Ellison's constant stream of remixes for other artists, it's hard to imagine when he finds time to sleep.
What a year it has been for Steven "Flying Lotus" Ellison. In May he released Cosmogramma, a widely acclaimed album that is seemingly on its way to numerous 2010 year-end lists. He expanded past his underground base and gained access to name-brand artists like Gucci Mane and Kanye West. And critics finally began looking past the whole Coltrane lineage thing -- as in, "Oh yeah, this guy might actually warrant some attention based on his own merits." Yet Ellison continues to hustle as if none of these developments happened.
Flying Lotus is arguably at the top of his game. His last release, Cosmogramma, was stellar, and it knew it. With a sense of originality and an insistence, at all costs, on being different, the young Los Angeles producer took the free-form jazz demeanor and the mystic stoner textures of Los Angeles and blew them up into a larger-(or perhaps simply denser)-than-life sampler of electronic styles.
The Pattern+Grid World EP opens with what is perhaps Flying Lotus’ most recognizable template: the fuzzed-out atmosphere, plod-nodding pace, streaking synths, and under-filtered R&B. But ascribing some sort of inflexible format to an artist such as FlyLo is selling him far, far short. The incredible scope of contemporary beat-music masterworks like Los Angeles and Cosmogramma should be enough to dispel such a notion.
In terms of sonic scope and ambitious arrangements, Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma remains as one of the year’s most substantially filled albums – depth beyond depth of layers and layers. “Clay” opens up the seams to a hazy, atmospheric drench of smoke before introducing the bustle of drums and in more ways than one, there is obvious reasoning behind assuming that Pattern+Grid World would be an extension of Steven Ellison’s spectacular album from earlier this year. Yet, he’s never given us any reason to assume he’d begin coasting now; this new EP is a terrific welcoming of fresh, new thriving music from one of electronic music’s leading men.
It may sound like an addendum to Cosmogramma, but it's no less essential for that. Colin Buttimer 2010 Is Flying Lotus the most interesting artist working in hip hop today? With so many contenders, it would be a silly claim to make, but his work is undoubtedly fascinating. Expectations are high after the wonderfully imaginative album Cosmogramma, released earlier this year.