Saturday, September 13, 2008

Flying Lotus - Los Angeles (***1/2)

Flying Lotus' debut album, 1983, had a hard time separating itself from the crowd. It's limpid use of hip hop beats and smeared samples bore comparisons to everyone from MF Doom to Boards of Canada. His approach hasn't change much on the surprising Los Angeles, but everything here is just flat out better. Pavement cracking beats, labyrinth sequencer patterns, blaring melodies, strong guest spots, it's everything that 1983 hinted at but failed to deliver outside of a few choice moments. His slight move away from hip hop and into full bore IDM has helped matters considerably as well. There are moments on Los Angeles that Boards of Canada wish they had thought of first. Speaking of BoC, Geogaddi is a nice touchstone for Los Angeles, except the fact that this is way heavier and at times even darker and more sinister.

At 17 songs and just over 40 minutes, Los Angeles is a tighter listen than 1983. Most songs clock in at about the 2-3 minute mark. They hit quick and hard, they leave you reeling and wondering what hit you. You'll stick around for the melodies though, and nearly each of these songs has a memorable one. The deftly integrated samples never overpower the songs, each lending just the right amount of contrast to the producer's frightening beat constructions and liberal use of static noise. The guest vocal spots are sequenced at the end of the record, with Dolly, Gonja Sufi and Laura Darlington all lending great, unobtrusive (but memorable) vocals. If you're not down with instrumental hip-hop or left-field IDM, than you need not apply. If you can stomach what Lotus is serving up throughout Los Angeles though, you're in store for one of the very best records of it's kind.

Highlights: "Beginners Falafel", "Golden Diva" GNG BNG", "Riot", "Parisian Goldfish"

RIYL: MF Doom, Anticon., Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin



"Parisian Goldfish"

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