Deputy Entertainment editor Jack Broughan looks at Flying Lotus’ newest offering.
Flying Lotus’ music has always sounded like a bizarre mix of J Dilla and Sun Ra. I can almost picture Sun Ra warbling something about space travelling mysticism while Dilla knocked out drum patterns on an MPC. That strain of mysticism in Flying Lotus’s (Stephen Ellison) music is not unfounded either. A nephew to Alice and John Coltrane, and cousin to Ravi Coltrane, Jazz and quasi mysticism has been somewhat of an early feature in Ellison’s life.
Alice Coltrane was a devotee of Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba and was a spiritual director of an Ashram in Malibu California. An Ashram is traditionally a location of spiritual hermitage. However nowadays Ashram’s are more akin to a studio or dojo focusing on Indian cultural activities such as spiritual instruction and meditation. Ellison was also a participant, partaking in “sleep-paralysis, out of body experiences and things like that.” This love of “mystical states” combined with a love of getting stoned and a reverence for old school gaming is essential the mix in which Flying Lotus’ music springs from.
My first exposure to Flying lotus came in 2008 with the release of Los Angeles, his second release and first on the infamous English electronic label Warp records. The record had been handed to me by a friend along with four or five Radio one mixes from the likes of Benga, Skream, Digital Mystikz and Kode 9. Needless to say the assortment completely blew my mind but Los Angeles stood out in particular. Compared to the moody downtime sparse beats of the other artists in the stack of CD’s I had, Flying Lotus seemed totally removed from the others. On closer examination it began to make much more sense, Ellison hailing from Los Angles and the others coming from a tight knit scene in London spawned by the FWD club night in Shoreditch.
Until the Quiet Comes is a somewhat different record from its predecessor Cosmogramma. Much more sparse and laid back, the record does not share the up tempo almost ADD like tempo and rhythm jumps. Instead the record is very much a headphone record. The album’s opener sounds like a down tempo Sun Ra track. Underpinned by a subby paced bass line and layered with a high register piano melody that sounds more like wind chimes the track tapers off in suitable Flying lotus fashion with reversed samples dripping in reverb and complemented by sampled female vocals. The track segues effortlessly into “Getting there” featuring Nikki Randa on vocals. “Getting There” is dominated by a rough un quantised hip hop beat that sounds like it’s been freshly hammered out of J Dilla’s MPC and compliments the spacey vocals perfectly. While relaxed the album isn’t without it’s more danceable moments, “Sultan’s Request” opens up with a droning FM synth and bouncy two step drums. A cursory glance at YouTube reveals the track popping up in a few live sets dating back as far as 2011, testament to the effectiveness of the track in a live setting.
While Until the Quiet Comes may seem laid back and almost breezy compared to Cosmogramma the record does not fail to disappoint. Subtle in ways that bubbled to the surface occasionally, the record pushes Flying Lotus’ deeper into the part jazz part beat driven hip hop along the lines of J Dilla. Stripped back but sounding more concentrated than ever Until the Quiet Comes is probably Flying Lotus’ most accessible record to date but by no means his worst. The record is a prefect jumping off point for new listeners and a more than adequate addition to the Flying Lotus cannon.