Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus is, in a way, this generation’s DJ Shadow, he’s the gateway act easing elitist listeners – formerly too stuck up to listen to electronic music – to transition to music that doesn’t conform to their rigid must-play-instruments discipline. The Thom Yorke connection, the association with revolutionising the beat game, and the acclaims received outside of his genre all served to make him something of a 21st century patron saint of music borne of 1s and 0s. But unlike Shadow, Steven wasn’t a one classic wonder, Cosmogramma was just as good of an album as sophomore Los Angeles and better than debut 1983. And with latest album Until the Quiet Comes, he proves that he hasn’t lost one iota of his creative fervour.
Cosmogramma was a dense record purely in terms of sounds. The album was a sardine can of rhythms, instruments, and textures, all mangled up creating something that sounds quintessentially FlyLo. With that solid of a foundation, most acts would have attempted the wrongheaded move of going bigger, doubling what had been a musical cul-de-sac that couldn’t have possibly gone farther. Steven’s a true artiste though, right down to the E, Until the Quiet Comes has an air that is more similar to his bassist Thundercat’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse than Cosmogramma. As Steven had said in an interview, he wanted to create a record with which children can dream to, and here you can hear that in the simplicity of the sound.
Tracks like opener ‘All In’ and the one-two punch of ‘Until the Colours Come’ and ‘Heave(n)’ have a downtempo jazz quality quite unlike Thundercat’s debut. It even recalls of the alt-electronic scene pre-beat scene, it’s more Ninja Tunes than Low End Theory. Here Steven is more focused towards the atmosphere and aural vibe than the thickness of the sound. This doesn’t mean he has lessened the influences though, it’s just that there seems to be a more streamlined quality to the intermingling of hip hop beats, jazz, psychedelia, and progressive rock. Maybe that was what he meant by the album title, there’s a quiet harmony in the sound now.
However, the FlyLo dissonance is still there on the record, but Steven’s learnt to put more importance in transitions. While displaying what he meant by music children could dream to, ‘Putty Boy Strut’ is a clanky, glitchy Katamari Damacy-esque tune, yet despite positioned right before the smoother Erykah Badu feature ‘See Thru to U’, the switch from one to another is seamless. The brief violin that transitions the two was the perfect fodder to bridge the rigid with the elegant. Elsewhere, the hallucinogenic epic ‘DMT Song’, featuring not just his bass but Thundercat’s vocals as well, is a balladic paean so ethereal you don’t need psychedelic aid to trip out to it.
Like Cosmogramma, Until the Quiet Comes includes an obligatory cameo by Thom Yorke as well. We guess this is a thing now for the two BFFs. ‘Electric Candyman’ didn’t leave as much of an impression on us as the previous album’s ‘…And the World Laughs with You’, but it still left us wishing for a collaborative album between the two. However vocal contributions by the likes of Laura Darlington and Niki Randa had a more potent sophistication to them, aiding the beats greatly on ‘Hunger’ and ‘Phantasm’.
The harshness of Cosmogramma is silenced on Until the Quiet Comes – Until the Quiet Comes is the quiet that came. Fans needn’t worry about the complicated brilliance that the sophomore was heralded for though, the brilliance of this record is more subdued, hidden in its quiet simplicity. Being not as pronounced, the complexity is more nuanced all the richer to listeners once they discovered it. The quiet that came was due to our jaws being agape with awe.
LISTEN TO: ‘Putty Boy Strut’, ‘See Thru to U’, ‘Until the Colours Come’, ‘Phantasm’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Thundercat, Ricardo Villalobos, Thom Yorke, Samiyam
01. All In
02. Getting There (feat. Niki Randa)
03. Until the Colours Come
05. Tiny Tortures
06. All the Secrets
07. Sultans Request.
08. Putty Boy Strut
09. See Thru to U (feat. Erykah Badu)
10. Until the Quiet Comes
11. DMT Song (feat. Thundercat)
12. The Nightcaller
13. Only if You Wanna
14. Electric Candyman (feat. Thom Yorke)
15. Hunger (feat. Niki Randa)
16. Phantasm (feat. Laura Darlington)
17. me Yesterday//Corded
18. Dream to Me