Sunshine soul music and hazy psychedelia are the better-known musical exports from L.A., but if you peer into the city’s darker corners it’s not hard to find their skewed musical cousins. This is the place Flying Lotus inhabits, turning out his electric brand of shadowy funk.
For nearly a decade, electronic composer Steven Ellison, a.k.a. Flying Lotus, has churned out living, breathing collages of hip-hop, dubstep, jazz and blues. A disciple of the late beatmaster J Dilla, Ellison is the current king of the beat scene in Los Angeles. His hip-hop beats are unique for their hazy, ambient sound, while his percussion is purposefully slightly off time, creating a messier, more organic atmosphere. Because of this, he is often likened to producers such as Madlib, Jneiro Jarel and J Dilla despite the fact that all the mentioned musicians have distinctly unique styles.
‘Reset,’ his Warp debut, ranges from skeletal electro of ‘Dance Floor Stalker,’ to the subterranean soul knocker ‘Tea Leaf Dancers’ and the bass workout of ‘Spicy Sammich’ leaves no stone unturned. Flying Lotus’ roots are in hip-hop, as Snoop Dogg’s lyrics and beats were the right kind of influence for Lotus to make music in the first place.
“Until the Quiet Comes” is FlyLo’s latest album released today features past collaborators Erykah Badu and Thom Yorke. In "See Through to You," layers of Badu's voice are woven into loose, overlapping patterns that function as fibers in FlyLo's sonic quilt. Elsewhere, Yorke's voice haunts "Electric Candyman" with a reverb-thick roll. The Brainfeeder bassist Thundercat is here, too, making an appearance in "DMT Song," a swirling bag of vocals and plucked strings. Niki Randa and Laura Darlington's contributions exemplify Ellison's penchant for using vocals with a ghostly quality to them.
At just more than three-quarters of an hour, Flying Lotus' new album beats with a heart unique to its creator. With each release, FlyLo adds to his palette of sounds without cluttering his arrangements. Until the Quiet Comes is Ellison's most sonically adventurous and least muddled journey yet, as well as a trip worth taking over and over again — the quiet can come later. www.facebook.com/flyinglotus