In a Complex Magazine interview regarding his upcoming album “Until the Quiet Comes,” experimental music producer Steven Ellison — better known by his stage name Flying Lotus — cited meditation and mystical states as his primary inspirations. These inspirations have enabled the Los Angeles native to play with psychedelic and minimalist elements while still preserving a jazzy, beat-driven sound. However, the latest result of this hybridization is so discordant and obnoxiously repetitive that one wonders if Ellison knows the proper distinction between meditation and hibernation.
Flying Lotus’ 2010 album “Cosmogramma” was applauded for its distinct sound, featuring shades of jazz and hip-hop instrumentals. However, “Until the Quiet Comes” attempts to express its own uniqueness by offering a range of different sounds such as congas in “See Thru to U” and a grand piano in “All the Secrets.” For the most part, these musical elements seem misplaced. Furthermore, Ellison’s meticulous attention to detail doesn’t serve him well this time around; the sounds of a woodpecker heard midway into the upbeat “Tiny Tortures” only serve to lead the song off the path.
The opening track, “All In,” has an ethereal and world music feel. “Until the Quiet Comes” begins as a willful, spiritual track, though it stays on course for only a brief time. But after a mere four songs, “Tiny Tortures,” an unsatisfying dive into the minimalist abyss, proves Flying Lotus is not quite prepared to expand his sound into such adventurous areas.
The album then delves into “Sultan’s Request,” a heavier electronic track that could have easily been produced by any average club disc jockey. Then there is “Putty Boy Strut,” a track with relentless claps and weird voice samples that seem intent on launching a dougie-style dance.
The album is only kept afloat by the creative contributions of other artists. It’s an impressive list, including R&B sensation Erykah Badu, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and up-and-coming electronic artist Thundercat. These tracks bring us back to the original Flying Lotus sound. “Only If You Wanna” is one track that reverts to Flying Lotus’ previous style; there is no mystery to why Ellison named it his personal favorite from the album.
“Until the Quiet Comes” contains 18 tracks that, for the most part, seem to more closely resemble a collection of Flying Lotus’ early recordings and discarded material than an actual album. While it is safe to assume a release like this isn’t enough to end an artist’s career, it will surely leave a deep and nasty scar — one that will hopefully fade over time.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 4 print edition. Kemet Dugue is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.
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