first impressions: flying lotus – cosmogramma

*you can thank mr. steven ellison himself for this first impression. he’s currently streaming his latest opus in its entirety at his myspace page.

at just 26 years old and two album under his belt in the last three years, steven “flying lotus” ellison has handled the increasing buzz and pressure surrounding him very well. between his current opening slot for thom yorke’s new project atoms for peace and recently being dubbed the “hendrix of hip-hop,” expectations are understandably pretty high for his upcoming cosmogramma to deliver, especially considering that it’s following up los angeles, one of the more masterful hip-hop releases of any era. fortunately, rather than retreat or retread old territory, ellison has bravely, brilliantly lept forward. just as los angeles was a tightly constructed metropolis of interlocking beats and rhythms, this new self-proclaimed “space opera” sprawls outward and upward into a new sonic stratosphere.

more immediate observations after the jump…

  • the album opens rather oddly with “clock catcher,” which plays for it’s brief running time like a song we’ve caught in mid-progress. it’s a jarring start to say the least, but by the end of it, you’ll be less curious about what you missed and more excited for what comes next.
  • j dilla’s sound and spirit still float over the proceedings, but they don’t dominate them. this album still snaps, crackles and pops like the best of glitch-hop, but there’s also an added softness throughout thanks to the addition of harps, mandolins and other strings to the arrangements.
  • speaking of arrangements, that’s what most of the tracks are here. only a few of them could classify as actual “songs” while the rest serves as smaller and larger movements that both work both for and off of the cohesive whole. the effect is delightfully dizzying as the album’s structure constantly morphs, takes itself apart and puts itself together again. you know, like the cosmos.
  • of the actual songs, obviously most people will want to discuss the thom yorke contribution. “…and the world laughs with you” is positively eraser-worthy and proves such a collaboration both a natural and obvious fit.
  • other “song” highlights include another seductively sleepy turn from laura darlington (married to ellison’s fellow brainfeeder daedalus) on “table tennis,” the propulsive, club-worthy “do the astral plane” and the ridonk dubstep of “computer face :: pure being.”
  • the album ends just as abruptly as it began on “galaxy in janaki,” cutting to silence like you’ve just been pulled back through the worm-hole you got sucked into 45 minutes ago and spit back onto earth. damn.

i hesitate to write more in part because i think most of this should be discovered for itself and also because i have a hard time picking standout moments or numbers. the sounds and layers are so lightning quick and intertwined with one another that it’s near impossible to digest the album in chunks. it demands (and rewards) a sit-down listen from start to finish. what it lacks in the unity of its predecessor, it more than makes up for in ambition.

and god help you if you listen on shuffle. it’s liable to induce nose-bleeds in the vein of LOST’s island time skips.

cosmogramma is out may 4 on warp records. best find a constant now.

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One Response to “first impressions: flying lotus – cosmogramma”

  1. emmarichenda Says:

    oh my god this is out now. i am so happy.

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