In terms of sonic scope and ambitious arrangements, Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma remains as one of the year’s most substantially filled albums – depth beyond depth of layers and layers. “Clay” opens up the seams to a hazy, atmospheric drench of smoke before introducing the bustle of drums and in more ways than one, there is obvious reasoning behind assuming that Pattern+Grid World would be an extension of Steven Ellison’s spectacular album from earlier this year. Yet, he’s never given us any reason to assume he’d begin coasting now; this new EP is a terrific welcoming of fresh, new thriving music from one of electronic music’s leading men.
Gone are the string-laden fusions of Björk-like romps (“Drips//auntie’s Harp”) and the atmospheric, waving ambience of spectral jams like “Satelllliiiiiiiteee.” While this is obviously no indication that Ellison intends to ditch the highs he achieved on Cosmogramma, it clearly marks a distinct line in the sand: one side is where he was at a few months ago and the other, a new focused regime. There’s no greater proof than “Kill Your Co-Workers” and it’s intensified synth-led melody. Glittered with shades of looping keyboards and snares that are almost Venetian, it’s a concise and determined sound. And by the time “PieFace” rolls around – complete with a crescendo of swirling synthetic beats and taps – Ellison has just reminded us that with Pattern+Grid World he is truly, the master of his domain.
Being able to hone in on your craft is incredible but when you’re able to nearly perfect it, it’s downright exceptional. The shift on “Jurassic Notion/M Theory” is easily one of the finest examples of brilliance for many reasons. Not only does FlyLo showcase a skill in improvisation, blending entirely different beats – paced, rugged, tribal drums on “Jurassic Notion” and then bumping, forward-moving hip-hop on “M Theory” – but it’s an absolutely seamless transition at that. There’s never any reason why at least one of your limbs shouldn’t be shaking like crazy to his music; like Prefuse 73 and others before and with him, Ellison has always been about keeping the beat at the front and ready for attack.
Back when the first blowing sounds of “Parisian Goldfish” appeared on Los Angeles, there was always another distinction with Ellison’s music and that was his ability to mix dubstep with these tonal, organic sounds. “Time Vampires” blends the high-pitched strain of flutes with a whimsical vibe and you almost end up forgetting that this is, as some would prefer to call it, just electronic music. But if there’s one thing that can be said about FlyLo’s music, it’s that sensible notion that there is always musicianship and skill behind everything he does – Pattern+Grid World EP is no exception.