Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma | Album Review

Flying Lotus raised the height of his electro-sonic game when he released in May this year his second full-length album Cosmogramma on Warp records, an unusual album through-in and through-out its content, style and visual form (with artwork by Leigh J. McCloseky, look up Codex Tor!).

Cosmogramma is constructed by 17 pieces, from 17 seconds to 3 minutes 20 sections; each piece titled and punctuated by unexpected wording (‘Pickled!’ , ‘Nose Art’, ‘Table tennis’, etc).  This is not a new feature of Flying Lotus’ touch however, rather it is the mark of his ever productive bend, present and evolving ever since his first dubsteps.  As random as these uncategorisable tiny timed pieces and their longer siblings appear at first, they always self-audio explain their unique character as soon as you will hit play, thus falling tightly snug into the seat-beat that Flying Lotus has composed, for them, and in them.

Cosmogramma is a space opera, thus has Warp records presented it.  When it was released to the press it was handed as a one long play, a very fitting format because, although dividable in the said 17 parts, each track runs inside and outside of its selves, like natural phrases in the logic of poetics rather than synthetic broken units.

Haven’t listened to it yet? Let us tempt you…

The narrative of Cosmogramma begins with ‘Clock Catcher’, 33 seconds of piano notes falling onto dis-rhythmed beats.  It holds an intensity also captured in ‘Drips’ standing at a nano-size track of 17 seconds.  ‘Pickled!’ picks up a dubstep all coloured in jazz, a distinct hue that flies high all the way through this album.  ‘Pickled!’ will hook your blood flow to a Thundercat bass, droping empty lines so devilish your heart physically has to pump it or you’ll die.

There is the flaunting and sexy shadow of Hip Hop too, all jazzed up, still present but less so than in his previous two albums, 1983 and Los Angeles.  Dubstep is aplenty, with pieces like ‘Nose Art’ (in which lyrics warn ‘The beat won’t let up’), ‘Zodiac shit’, ‘Arkestry’, ‘Mmmhmm’, ‘Recoiled’, ‘Table Tennis’.

The second opus of the Cosmogramma opera began for me when ‘A Cosmic Drama’ burst in on my earphones with the rolling drums of a military march and lyrics nonchalantly announcing ”Oh my it sure is hot in here”.  Once the march is over, ‘A Cosmic Drama’ becomes a sizzling dubstep acquiver, of echoes and tempoes on repeat.

The beauty-beat-full ‘Computer Face’ stands as my favourite I must say, I could play this from now until eternity.  Sitar style strings resonnate the shape of a throne all made of drums, it is the perfect mental image of a computer generated elephant walk through a cyber Asia : the Computer (elephant) Face.

Cosmogramma features a fair share of shining armours, with Thom Yorke in ‘And the World laughs with you’ a heavier more urgent beat with entertwining lines of instrumentation.  The lyrics are delivered by Laura Darlington throughout the album and when encountering the wicked electro-fied harpsichord look to musician Rebekah Raff and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, the string arranger for Badu and Outkast.

The third and last opus? Starting with an awesome fight and crash scene, comic-book style, ‘Satelllliiiiiiite’ is a dramatic, super groovy blaxploitation ouverture leading to a smoky  ‘German Haircut’ featuring Ravi Coltrane (of the Coltrane lineage, yes indeed).

The last track ‘Galaxy in Janaki’ ends this album, with softly propelled reverberation cloacked in a fuller, rounder beat.  It wears a rock feel that reminds me so much of Broken Social Scene.

The aesthetic of Cosmogramma is so harmonious and united, so cohesive in its structure, it is one of the best formed album I have humbly come across this year, along with Gil Scott-Heron‘s.  Cosmogramma is like the veins of leaves that grow from their source, independently but always part of it.  Until the source blossoms… I think the Lotus has made a flower.

–Nadia Ghanem

Privacy Preference Center