First impressions leave the most lasting effect on anyone but are they necessarily always the best? Many times, someone can gather their feelings, thoughts and progressions in order to try again and in turn, succeed or in other cases, improve. But everything is contingent on that one person’s own ability; what exactly would they achieve in even returning with something else? But the world is filled with possibilities and they’re all in the realm of possibility for anyone.
To think that this is still the young producer from Los Angeles that got his start by crafting juicy, booming dubstep cuts for Cartoon Network to use in whichever way they deemed best (those commercials continue to impress and affect with every new idea), seems like such a wonderful pay off on what life has to offer. As Flying Lotus – or FlyLo as Steven Ellison has soon to come to be affectionately referred as by devoted fans – he’s methodically and extremely well-fashioned, winning many dashing impressions. His Warp debut, Los Angeles, was the best electronic album of 2008, his sought after skills as a producer have found him winning situations like being a part of the tree-headed producing team on Gonjasufi’s melting pot of styles, A Sufi and A Killer, and he has now, completely and utterly, broken down all those impressions to render an album that is overflowing with exceptional music.
The opening moments of “Clock Catcher” and ending song, “Galaxy in Janaki,” illustrate a new blend of electronic music where both the beats and the melodies can be just as important. Much like Bibio did last year, about three times, Ellison has hit a stride in conveying such compelling sounds. This is still very much dubstep but unlike others that mainly focus on one aspect at a time, Ellison is sprawling with far too many good ideas to allow any to go to waste. He enters his heaviest wonk on the grooving “Nose Art,” he slowly seduces you with strings and a harp on “Intro//A Cosmic Dramma,” before returning back to his dubstep roots with layers of synths, on top of jagged snares and a paced rhythm. Though Ellison has taken you very far already, his collaboration with Thom Yorke, “…And the World Laughs With You,” is by far his most head-turning moment. Drilling with a speedy hi-hat and bass combination that is always pushing forward, Yorke’s choice of melody brings back memories of hearing “All I Need” for the first time and seeing her look back at me with tear-filled eyes; in a moment’s instance Ellison has proven just how viably skillful he is and it is time it got noticed.
“Satelllliiiiiiiteee” is basically a grooving jazz rhythm section that is ebbing and flowing to the beat of their own, collective, drum. It’s such a seamless overall sound that everything absolutely melts into each other as if they were written all at the same time, for each other, about each other and so much more. Ravi Coltrane shows up a couple of times to lend his bellowing sax pipes and is suddenly emerging from a cloud of dust on the ensuing haze of “German Haircut.” Family ties are a blessing because the fruition is almost always stunning as Coltrane is the son of famous John and Alice Coltrane, Alice being Ellison’s great-aunt. Right around the time “Recoiled” hits, with a harder synth drive and a lower level of gravity, it’s apparent that although he’s transitioned into a much more heavier state, anything is bound to happen.
That’s the magic of what an album like Cosmogramma is all about. Initial copies of his album were sent to the media with one single track of forty-five minutes of music. At first I was a bit confused and ensured I had downloaded everything correctly but in such anticipation, I turned it on right away. The concept of an album that is one, extended, theme of ideas that all come together in an impeccable flow of perfectness is arduous, to say the least. However, Ellison has created an album that is definitely positioned and performed in such a manner that his music is not something we should take for granted. Flying Lotus has made the strongest album to date with his amazing collection of sounds, beats and instruments; as good as you felt after hearing the sheer brilliance of Los Angeles – as good as that impression was – by the time “rips//Auntie’s Harp” comes around and amazes you, Cosmogramma has latched on and will never let go.