Review Summary: flying lotus' latest proves his strengths are still there.
For those who are familiar with Flying Lotus’ specific style of electronica, 'Los Angeles' can be marked simply as Steve Ellison's Warp record. Ellison has slowly been moving himself among the L.A. hip hop scene attempting to craft something that sounds like the meeting point of Aphex Twin and Madlib. Daedalus and Gaslamp Killer can also be seen as clear relations to FlyLo as they should considering all three artists are common performers in the L.A. music scene. '1983' represented a more clearer view of Ellison's take on instrumental hip-hop, 'Reset' was marked by the decision to move Flying Lotus into a more beat heavy existence, and with 'Los Angeles' we begin to see the artist reveling in the perceived intelligence of his label peers like Prefuse 73 and Autechre.
Opener 'Brainfeeder' shows clearly that this is going to be a different type of Flying Lotus record. Absolutely no percussion is used through the songs entire minute and a half length which seems daring for a producer who is known for his superbly crafted rhythms. The track is highlighted by the swirl of dynamic synths that help the second track 'Breath.Something/Stellar Star' slowly and perfectly shift in as a follow up. Noticeable about the first two tracks also is how deeply FlyLo has seemed to delve into his atmosphere. He is pressing for a more psychedelic feel and 'Breath' demonstrates this with synths that sound like wandering Theremins. 'Melt!' mixes chants with a very tribal drum feel and encompasses the influence it seems Bollywood has had on Ellison and 'Golden Diva' leaves an unremarkable impression of Boards of Canada. As the record reaches the midpoint it starts reaching for more rhythm based pieces. 'Riot' is a heavy bass aided track that uses steel drums and hand claps to create a massive low end. The song slowly evolves until the bass bridges into a seemingly random pattern as the drums around it come to a steadier beat. The track then leaves the more upbeat rhythm and concludes with a drifting synth barrage. 'GNG BNG' comes off as mix between the pioneering sounds of early New York DJs and Beat Konducta's recent forays. 'Parisian Goldfish' finishes off the trio of dance heavy tracks as FlyLo's most club based composition yet. As a whole the variety of sounds found on the record are what 'Los Angeles' success stems from with tracks as relaxing as 'Sexslaveship' before what seems like improvised vocals on 'Testament'. . 'Los Angeles' finishes off with a variety of vocal performances included a meet up with one of Ellison's early collaborators. ‘Los Angeles’ ends on a positive note with the simply beautiful 'Auntie's Lock/Infinitum' which is made even more luscious with a vocal performance from Laura Darlington. The track drifts the otherwise cluttered sonic palate into a serene and simple finish and I could not see the record ending any other way.
Flying Lotus has once again proved that he is an artist that can consistently reinvent himself and make his new sound just as effective as it was before. While I wouldn't say this record succeeds in providing the same level of consistent quality I think '1983' did, it is pretty hard to criticize 'Los Angeles' as anything other than a great record. Ellison's developments as always have entertained me enough that I'm willing to remain excited for his next release. Until then ‘Los Angeles’ remains as one of the best examples of “instrumental hip-hop” in 2008.