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Flying Lotus
Cosmogramma Colin McKean , May 24th, 2010 09:50

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Cosmogramma is a sprawling, post-Web 2.0 cacophony. It's like hurtling through the digital darkness of Spotify with everything blaring at once. At some points it's perplexing, at others it's thrilling.

Far from the booming spaciousness of FlyLo's 1983, 2007's Reset EP, or the low-slung clatter of 2008's Los Angeles, many of the tracks that comprise Cosmogramma are unexpectedly fast. From the fierce, off-kilter hi-hats of opener 'Clock Catcher', itchy junglism and burbling bass of 'Pickeled!' and the demented rave whoops and symphonic synth stabs that punctuate 'Nose Art', the frantic pace doesn't let up until 'Intro/A Cosmic Drama', which could soundtrack an establishing shot in an early Bond film. You can almost picture Ursula Andress emerging from the waves.

'Zodiac Shit' wouldn't sound out of place on one of the producer's earlier efforts, foregrounding the vertiginous bass drops of old, but embellished with sun-dappled Van Dyke Parks orchestral flourishes. The acrylic synths of 'Computer Face/Pure Being' suggest an appreciation for the work of British counterparts such as Rustie and Hudson Mohawke, before Thom Yorke's mangled vocals make an appearance on the micro house-like '…And The World Laughs With You'.

Flying Lotus's schooling in soul, jazz and funk is most apparent during the woozy shimmer of 'Arkestry', sci-fi lullaby 'MmmHmm', and the farty boogie-house stomp of 'Do the Astral Plane'. 'Satelllliiiiiteee' is like a protracted sigh leading towards some jazzy octave bass and the sax 'n' drums noodling of 'German Haircut'.

Whinnying Baltimore, helium-vocalled UK hardcore and harps collide on 'Recoiled', and 'Dance Of The Pseudo Nymph' sounds like Squarepusher jamming to a raga. The percolating strings of 'Drips//Auntie's Harp' lead to the brooding 'Table Tennis', featuring The Long Lost's Laura Darlington and some ping-pong balls. Swooning album closer 'Galaxy In Janaki' is a kind of Frankenstein's monster, cobbled together from bits of all the album's other tracks. It's a lot better than that just made it sound.

Cosmogramma is dense and at times incoherent. Fresh ideas battle for elbowroom every few beats, impatiently vying for your attention, before launching each track on another unexpected tangent. It's testament to how good the vast majority of the ideas are that the whole thing doesn't buckle beneath the weight of its own creativity.

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Michael Avi
May 25, 2010 6:26am

After the May 4th release date (3 in the UK) I have checked the Quietus every day, patiently awaiting this review, and I have to say I'm a bit unsatisfied.
To me Cosmogramma is a modern day Bitches Brew, or Another Green World, or Kid A, an album very relevant and contemporary yet does not sound like anything that's been released before it. It belongs to the artist and cannot be replicated neither by the artist nor by his peers.
I would recommend the listener forget there is even a break to split songs, rather than focus on individual tracks. Don't expect singles, or bangers (while there are remnants of some).
The album is at times difficult to listen to, as many things are going on at once, but when I have the patience it is quite rewarding.

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Nov 9, 2011 1:36am

In reply to Michael Avi:

Damned right - Comsmogramma is a masterwork. Mary Anne Hobbs called him "the Hendrix of his generation", which is a perfectly apt description - FlyLo's utterly innovative musical style, astounding level of creative output, spiritual, spatial cosmology and wealth of creativity can only lead one to the conclusion that he is one of the great game-changers in the world of music.

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