Flying Lotus at the Top of His Game on New Album
Electronic musician and DJ Flying Lotus is no stranger to experimentation. 2010’s Cosmogramma was a marvelous spectacle of music production: electronic music influenced by and infused with jazz, hip-hop, and experimental rock. Borrowing from all aspects of music, Flying Lotus’ music owes as much to Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk as it does to Afrika Bambaataa or Kraftwerk. Expectations were certainly high for Until The Quiet Comes, his newest LP. After the majesty and experimentation of Cosmogramma, where was Ellison going to go? Until The Quiet Comes is an intensely difficult album, yet just as entertaining as any of his previous work. It moves forward without abandoning the past, rearranging his influences into yet another gorgeous pattern.
Until The Quiet Comes, like most of Flying Lotus’ records, is a musical collage, shifting influences track-to-track across a massive spectrum of jazz, R&B, rock, and hip-hop, all united by Flying Lotus’ signature electronic watermark. At 18 tracks spanning 47 minutes, each track is surprisingly short, with few exceeding three minutes. Yet this feels appropriate for a Flying Lotus album—constantly shifting, never static.
Flying Lotus merges the tracks on Until the Quiet Comes with a hazy, futuristic sound, causing awe-inspiring moments in every song. “All In” begins with a bright, infectious synthesizer mixed with a throbbing percussion track and harps that fit the space-age themes in the album. “Heave(n)” is in a similar vain, hoots and echoes melding in with scratchy, raspy drum beats. “Tiny Tortures” takes the album in a quieter, more tranquil direction, merging his electronic sensibilities with a shimmering guitar that recalls Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way. “Sultan’s Request” thrusts the album toward modern electronic music, bass filling the soundscape along with futuristic blips and bloops.
“Putty Boy Strut” is the most fascinating track on the album, high-pitched synthesizers merging with percussion to construct wholly alien sounds. ‘Only If You Wanna’ is the most traditional jazz track on the album, using hi-hat and bubbling synths to create a sense of calm in the middle of the futuristic storm. “me Yesterday/ / Corded” recalls the sounds of Cosmogramma, an epic composition layered with synths that sound like classic 8-bit videogames. The album’s closer, “Dream to Me,” uses the same droning synth to create an eerie conclusion, as if we are slowly drawing out of a twisted dream.
Even for all of the vocal collaboration that Until The Quiet Comes offers, they still never dominate the track—this is Ellison’s album, through and through. “Getting There” uses Niki Randa’s chilling voice to augment twinkling synth tracks and a hip-hop influenced percussion track. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke’s vocals on “Electric Candyman” function in roughly the same way, echoing across the track to build a lush soundscape. The album’s first single, “See Thru To U,” featuring Erykah Badu, succeeds because Badu fits into the lush, experimental jazz atmosphere of the track, featuring lyrics like “I can make it grow/I know, I know, I know I know.” “DMT Song,” the album’s highlight, features Thundercat (signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label) as a hazy crooner, a muddled, foggy Sinatra or Nat King Cole.
It’s difficult to say whether Until The Quiet Comes surpasses expectations, mostly because those expectations are so hard to pin down—it’s impossible to expect where Flying Lotus will take his music next. In borrowing from all aspects of musical culture, Ellison creates an experience all his own and totally unique from the rest of his catalog. Foggy, hazy, and yet consistently thrilling, “Until The Quiet Comes” is a dream listeners will never want to wake up from.