Review Summary: 1983 feels rushed and unbalanced, yet it showcases many of Flying Lotus's abilities as an emerging producer, crafting gripping and diverting electronic beats.
Steven Ellison has flourished over the years as a distinguished multi-genre music producer. As Flying Lotus, he has risen to fame through his distinctive pioneering of hip-hop and jazz-induced electronica. On his first album, 1983, Flying Lotus presents a clever medley of free form cerebral electronic music while designing some slick beats in the process. In the end, the album is somewhat of a mixed bag, but the LP's zest make for a compelling listen.
While the LP itself is promising, it is missing a common element that binds the songs together. The LP flows nicely during the first half but loses some of its luster by the second half. The radiant sparkle of "Orbit Brazil" adeptly trickles into the more percussion-centered "Shifty", yet the unforeseen jump from the ornate "Hello" to the swift "Untitled #7" feels forced. However, what 1983 lacks in terms of layout, it makes up for with some fantastic beats that propel the songs to an engaging level.
Nevertheless, there are occasional dull moments on the LP. Flying Lotus introduces absorbing moments of techno-bliss on the stronger tracks but is unable to preserve that thrill throughout the album's thirty-minute span. At least these stale instants are scattered about enough so as not to completely shatter the immersion of the album's bright complexion. Instituting the LP's luminosity, the riveting title track embraces the hip hop sector through a sweeping cadence decorated with a throbbing keyboard. Following a more static second track, "Bad Actors" manifests itself as a breath of fresh air. The soulful track oozes with exuberance and recalls the earliest phases of hip hop through glistening electronics.
"Orbit Brazil" is a welcomed curveball with its looping background sound effects and spacey production. Through shiny synthesizers, Flying Lotus creates a warm mood and a more hypnotizing progression. This warmth is carried throughout the rest of the album but is intentionally offset by glitchy beats and mystifying instrumentation. A perfect example of this irregular configuration is the bulky "Pet Monster Shotglass", in which roaring electronic noises are manipulated in an effectual manner. The song throws so many different sounds at the listener that it becomes a deafening bombardment.
However, 1983 feels unbalanced regardless of its attempts to create a uniform listening experience. The production is decent, but the animation is short-lived. Either way, Flying Lotus deserves credit for his attempts at broaching a brand new model of electronic music, making use of highly developed beats on which to anchor several competing musical concepts at once. 1983 ends with the bewitching gravity of "Unexpected Delight", featuring captivating vocals from Laura Darlington. The different selection of drums is instantly noticeable and gives the track a more down-to-earth and personal feel. The song twinkles with an emphasis on glowing pianos and shimmering flutes. As a result, the album closes with a very dreamy and romantic feel.
1983 is not as impressive as Flying Lotus's later albums, but it gives the artist a chance to explore diverse ingredients of electronic music. 1983 never commits to one particular format and is slightly hurt as a result. Relying on a nice collection of beats, this album is a slightly unfocused compilation. However, Flying Lotus's talent as a producer gives the album a number of redeeming qualities, and this record is a brief glimpse of the tricks he has up his sleeve.
Pet Monster Shotglass