Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (2010)


[2019 note: On revisiting stuff for my decade-end projects, I heard this again and found that my taste for jabbing experimental collage music of this sort has expanded greatly, helped along by how much I've admired some of FlyLo's subsequent work. I'm upgrading this to RECOMMENDED but allowing the original, more neutral review below to stand as originally posted. Thanks.]

Admitting no prior awareness of Flying Lotus, I have to admit this record wasn't at all what I expected. I read interviews with him and expected something more... overt? And certainly more accessible. Instead, we have a remarkably subtle disc here. As we've already mentioned here, I used to consider myself sort of an electronica aficionado, but I couldn't help finding the skittering first third-to-half of this to be pedestrian, even generic. But I left it on anyway, and eventually found noises that were ever more delicious passing through the landscapes; at times, the techno-jazz experimentation is sublime, the rhythms and trickery hypnotic and enveloping.

Reflecting on this now, I start to wonder how much my behavior during the listen affected my opinion. All through the first six or seven tracks, my cat was being particularly antsy, running all over the dining room and jumping on top of things, and as the clippy little chirps banged their way tentatively through the room I felt too pensive to see much beauty in it all. Things calmed down after that and I set to work on some project on the computer that required some level of concentration, no longer moving around the room much, and suddenly what Flying Lotus was driving at fell into place. I may be liable for my lack of unadulterated enthusiasm here.

With that said, two important notes: people who come to this, as people tend to in cases like this, to hear Thom Yorke's cameo are likely be dejected and will sit this in the proverbial pile with Drugstore and UNKLE; and more importantly, though the pleasures to be found here are likely worth it for many, the uglier moments are not ugly in a way I find ingratiating. They're just ugly, and kind of maddening. My cat agrees.

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