the lexicon

a writing portfolio by Alexandra Savvides

Flying Lotus – Los Angeles (Warp)

with 2 comments

Earlier this year, Flying Lotus – aka Steven Ellison – visited Australia to play several shows across the country. Before that, though, he gave a talk to producers and music aficionados alike at Sydney’s CDR night. In the darkness of Hermanns, Ellison talked about Los Angeles and his love/hate relationship with the city that provided the inspiration (and title) to the album.

Los Angeles is one of those rare achievements where the first listen through sounds as exciting and as gorgeous as the twentieth (which I’m sure, I must be up to by now). It is by no means a cathartic experience; it throws up much more than it could possibly hope to resolve, but by all means this is a part of its enjoyment and, we must hope, its longevity. Los Angeles has the sense of the external; a sort of hybrid somewhere between a sonic journey across the city itself mashed up with the soundtrack to the clubs at its very core.

1983 and even the Reset EP by comparison, were much more intimate – not at all domestic, but the sentiment and feeling behind them were definitely elsewhere. The shift in approach is evident in the first strains of ‘Brainfeeder’, phasing in and out a bit like the disorienting beauty of ‘Tea Leaf Dancers’. The furiously crafted, almost trademark Flying Lotus hip hop beat of ‘Breathe . Something/Stellar STar’ slams up against its own smooth groove, the first hint of the relationship between the city and the producer. Smaller interludes across the album take on a filmic quality, scratching their way into epic imagery.

Towards the end of the album, vocals kick in on ‘RobertaFlack’, as Dolly’s voice straddles across undulating percussion in a flawless progression that echoes the warmer moments on 1983. The unmistakeable squelch of ‘Auntie’s Harp’ – referring to his great aunt Alice Coltrane – is full of glimmering, arpeggiated hooks. It’s a near-delirious sentiment that harks back to the earlier feel of break-y ‘Comet Course’, tying in again another reference to Ellison’s musical heritage by sampling John Coltrane.

As tempting as it is to separate the tracks from their context, to do so is to lose a vital part of Los Angeles‘ vitality. For all the murkiness here, Ellison never loses sight of the brighter, shimmering side that is so fundamental to the Flying Lotus sound, and of course, to the city itself.

Cyclic Defrost

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Written by lexstatic

August 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm

2 Responses

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  1. If your into Flying Lotus, check out Cacheflowe. He’s one of the better IDM/Glitch-hop Artist’s out there. He just made a crazy, shoegazer/substep track, I like to call Shoestepper, you can have a listen here; http://cacheflowe.com/?page=discog&release=A_Shoreline_Dream_vs._Ulrich_Schnauss_-_neverChanger

    http://www.plasticsooundsupply.com

    PSS

    August 9, 2008 at 3:38 am

  2. Hey thanks for the suggestion. I checked the track out, it’s really heavy. I’d like to hear the original song as well, because I can’t hear much Ulrich Schnauss in the remix apart from the shoegazer-esque vocal.

    Love the shoestepper term though, I might use it in future!

    lexstatic

    August 10, 2008 at 5:20 pm


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