Review Summary: Music featured for television programming that is perhaps too programmed itself.
Flying Lotus is the pseudonym of Steven Ellison, who has done composition for Adult Swim, a program on Cartoon Network. Hearing his work, what many are calling "instrumental hip-hop", that isn't hard to imagine; this is the type of music you would hear running behind Adult Swim's white-text-on-black-screen adverts, reminding you it's the middle of the night and you're lucky you're not stuck in an elevator or watching the Weather Channel. Maybe that assessment is a bit harsh, but that's the typical taste Flying Lotus leaves in my mouth: the repeating melodies running over the repeated beats are pleasant enough, but when I get bored of it a minute into a song it becomes obvious that this sort of thing isn't for me.
And to be honest, "electronica" has never done it for me (I quote because most fans of this style of music see the term as a ridiculous catch-all misnomer). Sure, a lot of people will call and are calling this stuff "instrumental hip-hop", but to be honest, a lot of hip-hop is simple electronic dance music sans vocals. In actuality, this doesn't even remind me of hip-hop instrumentalism; even without vocals, hip-hop beats tend to change constantly. I'll admit wholeheartedly that I find most hip-hop instrumentation amusing or at least interesting.
But I don't find Flying Lotus that interesting simply because Ellison does what so many other loop-crunchers and sample-shifters do in his field: they take a simple beat, add a sample and proceed making extremely minor changes to the formula for minutes at a time before (usually) having the whole thing blow up. This has never been that exciting to me, mainly because all those minor changes (which are slow to come about anyway) don't change the fact that the same exact beat is going for three to five minutes at a time. That is what makes or breaks electronic music for me, what decides if it is moving or emotionless.
Admittedly, most tracks on here are pleasant enough, they just don't do much of anything. Ellison apparently has a passion for phasers and flangers with his samples, and these are put to great effect in most tracks, most notably the latter half of the record in "Pet Monster Shotglass" and "Untitled #7". The big track is the last: with Laura Darlington giving a beautiful performance over the steady beats, it actually feels a bit emotionally resonant. Despite that, none of these plusses are enough to overcome mediocrity on Flying Lotus's 1983
for me. It has been suggested that perhaps I just don't understand this sort of music or that I expect too much of it, but I beg to differ. All I ever expect from music is to hold my interest in one way or another, and 1983
can't do that.