Los Angeles

by: Flying Lotus

Before he started experimenting with left-field hip-hop beats and electronic samples, Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, experienced a moment of enlightenment. While filming a documentary about his great aunt/spiritual advisor Alice Coltrane and his cousin Ravi Coltrane, their cab driver asked if they were musicians. Alice responded that, in fact, the three of them were, except Steven didn't know it yet. It was a turning point, and soon after, when he viewed an ad challenging aspiring beat-makers to send in music to be used for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim bumpers, he took a chance on a whim, sent out a demo, and landed himself a paid position pumping out silky tracks for promos of his favorite shows. As an avid gamer, it was only natural that he would create downtempo Boards of Canada beats sauced with retro 8-bit bleeps and chimes, and these were a perfect fit for the Nintendo generation fan base of Adult Swim. Lotus' second full-length, Los Angeles, expands on fractured Zelda grooves, muddy bass stamps, and glitched drum loops to stir up nonintrusive computer chillout music modeled for a hip graphic designer's headphones. It could be considered headphone candy, but with the beats as liquefied and squishy as they are, headphone Slushee is more appropriate. "Golden Diva" rides the line between cold and sugary, crackling and popping like melting ice as carbonated hiss rotates in and out of the void behind unintelligible syllables diced together from stray vocal bits. In the same fashion, "GNG BNG" flips a Middle Eastern sitar groove into a mangled keyboard line slithering over a distorted rototom beat, before dropping down into "Auntie's Lock" to end the album in a quiet hush with breathy whispers over electronic piano loops. Like 2006's 1983, the patterns are subtly atmospheric and individual grooves feel tailored for the attention deficient, never lingering for very long before switching into a new tapestry. Loaded with 17 tracks, it's an entertaining and fitting addition to the Warp catalog that makes for some highly hypnotic video arcade/coffee parlor mood music. ~ Jason Lymangrover

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