Los Angeles native, Steven Ellison (a.k.a. Flying Lotus), originally gained critical acclaim and a cult following from his 2010 release, Cosmogramma. In the aftermath of such success, he has set out to detract from his ground-breaking, LA beat scene sound and divulge to us a more sophisticated and authentic exploration of the spiritual world. What better leader into the unknown than a student of, and great nephew to, the great Alice Coltrane, wife to the famed saxophonist, John Coltrane. Over the last decade Ellison has evolved from late night snippets featured on renowned counter culture TV show, Adult Swim, to an international artist working with the likes of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Grammy award winning Erykah Badu, both featured on the upcoming release, Until the Quiet Comes.
Until the Quiet Comes is a well crafted aural experience for music lovers that has the ability to create a sensory reaction, where the lines between physical and spiritual are blurred by parts interacting with each other and the listener. A perfect soundtrack to a jilted night in unfamiliar surroundings, he touches on familiar scenarios, like losing everyone on a night out and the experience and adventure that ensues.
Ellison’s music boasts a fluency frequented in progressive and concept albums such as Frances the Mute (Mars Volta, 2005) and Darkside of the Moon (Pink Floyd, 1973), not shying away from using magnificent and almost cinematic soundscapes. This hits the listener with an overpowering sense of completion, constantly allowing a wave of sound to wash over, rather than a scrutiny for detail within the music. With wavering, unquantized beats, the sound is reminiscent of jazz era greats and flaunts obvious influence from late producer, J Dilla.
The first single from Ellison’s forthcoming album is See Thru to U featuring staple artist of R&B/Neo-soul, Erykah Badu. Sparse atmospheres are merged with tribal percussion glossed in Badu’s angelic voice, flowing seamlessly into the title track, creating a far better fit for a single than as a stand alone piece. Well known label mate and counterpart of Ellison, Thundercat, is then vocally introduced on DMT (heavily featured as bassist throughout), a piece evocative of Ellison’s Adult Swim featurettes. Thom Yorke is the next guest on Electric Candyman, with a dark, rich timbre of manipulated strings and sporadic percussion, Yorke’s empyreal vocals become more of a focal point as opposed to the pairings last output (…And The World Laughs With You from Cosmogramma).
Aside from the music itself, Ellison has put together an incredible aesthetic to accompany his sound. The cover artwork visually embodies the audio realms his audience is lead through, with rich colours and ethereal lines, but the promotional short films, which have preceeded the album’s release are the true stimulants. The first, entitled Small Moments, was directed by Beeple, and features snippets of each track with flashes of appropriate visual aids. The real masterpiece, however, is the short film by the album’s name, which was directed by Kahlil Joseph. Featuring surreal scenes of gushing blood filling swimming pools and reversed movement, with some beautiful underwater shots and of course soundtracked by the album it’s promoting, it’s four minutes worth giving up.
At first, Beat scene fans and Ellison’s personal cult following could be disappointed with this release, as it is not filled with raucous, dance floor fillers, instead showcasing a laid back, spiritual approach to music making: well-crafted by an individual who clearly knows his way around his own tool box. This is a great addition to his back catalogue, determining him as a multi-faceted artist who will always leave his listeners waiting for more.
Until the Quiet Comes is released tomorrow.