Album Review - Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus

Until The Quiet Comes



"Hope u guys like 'until the quiet comes' I feel like I did my best to tell you my story, honestly"  Steven Ellison, better known as Flying Lotus, wrote this on his Twitter feed roughly a week before the release of his fourth proper LP; the ambitious and daring Until The Quiet Comes.  The "story" that Ellison has spun this time is unlike any he has laid on us before.  2008's Los Angeles was huge for the Southern California beatsmith, he had found a modest audience and gave them exactly what they were looking for: breakneck beats and spacy, synthy explorations.  It was a watershed moment for a still-young producer with something to prove.  2010's otherworldly and expansive Cosmogramma picked up right where his previous release had left off but this time things were a bit different.  Expectations had grown: he had a legitimate reputation to uphold and on top of that, a feature from arguably one of the biggest stars on the planet, Radiohead's Thom Yorke.  Lotus took advantage of this moment and delivered a behemoth of an album that still challenges to this day.  With his latest release he has upped the ante once more but Quiet has abandoned much of the previous 'conventions' of the artist's work to instead spin a narrative that is both decisive in it's direction yet meandering in it's fantastic audio makeup. The last two years have found Flying Lotus decidedly turning into a brand.  He has become a must-see festival stalwart and has transitioned into something of a SoCal legend.  His work with bassist Thundercat on last year's solid The Golden Age of Apocalypse found Ellison moving from Ableton-armed assassin to a place of more understated, orthodox production.  UTQC builds on that mature latticework without completely losing his identity.  There are still plenty of astral freakouts but they feel like they serve a serious purpose on this album.  There are discernable 'movements' through the entirety of the album which will speak freely on a vinyl release.  The tracks vary from Lunar lullabies to paranoid drum bangers but they all have a sense of identity and congruency in the sense of this being a fully conceptualized "album" in the grand sense of the word.   Opener "All In" sounds like The Jetson's weekend at the casino with it's shimmering cymbals and nodding drums that transition perfectly into the fluidity of the exciting, Niki Randa-featuring "Getting There".  "Tiny Tortures" finds skittering, tense moments over top of bright, beautiful strings.  The sequence of "Sultan's Request" and "Putty Boy Strut" are the most conventional 8-bit, Low End Theory-ready tracks on this collection, echoing back to his Cosmogramma outtakes EP Pattern + Grid World.  The Thundercat-featuring "DMT Song" slows everything down and utilizes the bassist's lovely falsetto with fantastic results.  As a side note: Thunder's skilled bass work is prevalent throughout and is a wonderful compliment and asset to everything Lotus does on this album.   The most welcomed surprise with Quiet is the measured suppression that Ellison shows through the duration of the album.  Some songs here still have those crashing drums and synths but are even more ethereal and moving than Lotus' previous releases.  It is not all bells and whistles this time around; he's raised the bar for beat heads and modern composers alike.  His use of guest vocalists, from Erykah Badu's masterful cameo on "See Through To U" to the always reliable and criminally underrated Laura Darlington's showing on "Phantasm" are wonderful moments of collaboration that bring an added dimension the album.  (Yes, there's even a brief but well-utilized Yorke sighting here)  UTQC has a definite intention that some of Lotus' previous work has, at times, lacked.  It's a cognitive and thoughtful release that finds the listener drawn into fantastic soundscapes that flow freely and are gripping in ways that we haven't seen before.  It's always exciting to watch artists grow in real time and with Until The Quiet Comes Flying Lotus has taken a cosmic leap into the future without just thrusting the engines to warp speed and it is a fantastic trip.   -Jake Miller      

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