Flying Lotus

 

CD OF THE WEEK: CosmogrammaWarp ****

Time to get high. Steven “Flying Lotus” Ellison is certainly not the only producer dabbling in that fold between instrumental hip-hop and electronica.

Many have sussed that blending a J Dilla-like boom with some moody, swirling electronica can produce a wonky, wibbly-wobbly, wondrous sound. For a whole clatter of producers, skewered, slo-mo, downbeat, horizontal beats have become the way of the walk.

FlyLo, though, stands out from his peers because he’s someone who wants to steer that mothership in an entirely different direction. As he showed on releases such as 1983, Los Angelesand Reset,his version of space-age soul music is liquid, dense and very much from the far side of the tracks.

By honing and blending electronic hip-hop, jazz and skittering bass sonics into dramatic textures and patterns, Ellison has already demonstrated that he’s got the handle on the vision thing.

Even taking that preamble into account, Cosmogrammais still startling because of the flight path taken by Ellison. He could, after all, have simply repeated previous steps and continued to flick between fuzzy and fizzy beats for sport. Instead, there’s a more jazzy, improvised shape to the sound as he works eerie, leftfield swirls and stabs into mesmerising, textured spells and potions.

While you could probably put some of this riffing and shapeshifting down to his family ties to the Coltrane dynasty, there’s no escaping the fact that Cosmogrammais operating at a different pace and chime to everything around it.

Ellison, though, hasn’t just put the beats in a box and forgotten about them. Check the magnificent span of Zodiac Shit, for instance, or the creepy, alien mood he sets on the collaboration with Thom Yorke, . . . And the World Laughs With You. And he really does get the best out of his cast of collaborators including Ravi Coltrane, Erykah Badu, Laura Darlington and Rebekah Raff.

But it’s when FlyLo heads for the grooves, as he does on the fantastic Do the Astral Plane, that he really takes your breath away. The trippiest experience of the season. See flying-lotus.com

Download tracks: Do the Astral Plane, . . . And the World Laughs With You, Zodiac Shit