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Flying Lotus “Until The Quiet Comes”: Album Review

Experimental Los Angeles producer Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, labelled the whole Grammy nomination process a joke after 2010’s Cosmogramma was ignored in the Best Dance/Electronica Album category in favour of efforts by the likes of Chemical Brothers, BT and Groove Armada.

Having described his new fourth studio album, Until The Quiet Comes, as “a collage of musical states, dreams, sleeps and lullabies,” it’s perhaps understandable why his unique brand of ambient electronica might have been just a tad too challenging for the awards’ committee.

Barely a handful of its 18 tracks approach anything resembling a traditional structure, its abstract nu-jazz production bearing all the freeform hallmarks of his distant relations, John and Alice Coltrane–particularly the mysterious noodlings of “Tiny Tortures” and the trippy atmospherics of “Heave(n).”

The claustrophobic “Sultan’s Request,” a grimy dubstep number which sounds like the theme tune to a British hoodie horror, and the squelchy sci-fi funk of “The Nightcaller” provide a bit of respite from such avant-garde fare. But for the most part Ellison revels in disorientation.

“Putty Boy Strut” is a twisted take on the sounds of the retro video game with its quirky 8-bit bleeps and mechanical percussion, “DMT Song” is essentially a 60s lounge-pop number given the haunted house treatment, while the latter’s overwhelming ghostliness also finds its way onto the disjointed breakbeat of “Me Yesterday/Corded” and the oriental-tinged “Hunger.”

Even when the likes of Erykah Badu and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke turn up to lend a hand, the material is still as head-scratchingly esoteric. The former’s smoky soulful tones are barely audible buried beneath the overlapping tumbling percussion of “See Thru To U,” whilst the latter is virtually unrecognisable under the thick fog of reverb on “Electric Candyman.”

Those unaccustomed to Ellison’s highly unsettling fare may see the aforementioned as something of a missed opportunity, but they are indicative of his admirable and sometimes wondrous disregard for convention.

Indeed, typical of his ambitious and often impenetrable sound, Until The Quiet Comes has moments of beauty and moments of self-indulgent tedium. But the Grammy Awards are still likely to remain off-limits for now.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music, Featured


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