Flylo releases introspective, intimate album
Until the Quiet Comes, Steve Ellison’s (a.k.a Flying Lotus) latest masterpiece, brings to a head everything he’s been working toward since creating the Brainfeeder music label in 2008. From his synthesis of Los Angeles’ electronic music, he has crafted his own voice — and it is boundless, ageless, and undeniably beautiful.
His previous LP, Cosmogramma — the new album’s more capricious older brother — was my first taste of Flying Lotus. And like most of my favorite artists, Flying Lotus was introduced to me by Max “Tamahawk” Tamahori, an aspiring DJ and one of my closest friends from back home in Los Angeles.
“Flylo is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before, man,” he told me in 2010, the night after he had seen the electronic artist do a set alongside two of Brainfeeder’s main men, Daedalus and The Gaslamp Killer. “Really, all of Brainfeeder’s DJs are like the modern Beats of Los Angeles — and Flylo’s their Kerouac.”
That statement has never been truer than with Until the Quiet Comes. While in the anti-album style of Cosmogramma — in the sense that the tracks aren’t individual but part of a collective — it’s more introspective and intimate than Flylo’s previous releases.
The album also has an absurdly huge color palette, blending sounds expertly and seamlessly between tracks. One minute you’re flying high on a smooth jazz session in “Only If You Wanna,” and the next you’re on a drug relapse during the compact drones and desperate crooning of Flylo’s frequent collaborator Thom Yorke in “Electric Candyman” — which should definitely be Yorke’s new nickname.
Radiohead mastermind aside, Flylo collaborates with more artists on Until the Quiet Comes than ever before. Along with previous accomplices Yorke and Thundercat — another member of Brainfeeder — this album has the unknown Niki Randa stepping into the spotlight in “Getting There” and “Hunger,” as well as big-name Erykah Badu on “See Thru To U.” And Laura Darlington, Daedalus’ wife, drops in to sing on “Phantasm,” which might be tied with “The Nightcaller” for best track on the album.
Until the Quiet Comes is also a standout for its focus on composition — and complex composition, at that. The album is an electronic tone poem, with Flylo’s prowess as the base text and certain combinations of instrumentation and melodies recurring as motifs. There’s a theme in “Only If You Wanna” — one that briefly shows up earlier in “Tiny Tortures” — that even harkens back to Cosmogramma’s hit track “Mmmhmm.”
Even with the album’s complexities and artistry, Flylo never neglects humor. “Sultan’s Request,” for example, is a deconstruction of what most consider dubstep — a slow, dense bass line without any beat, coming off as comical and slightly disconcerting. And the listener can’t help but laugh at the brief, punctuated “whoop” in the last second of “Heave(n).”
With Until the Quiet Comes, Flylo has not only created one of the best electronic albums in recent history, but has also made his own sound more accessible by smoothing out its edges. I know I’ll be spending my brief moments of relaxation listening to this album on repeat for the next month or two. Anyone with the slightest interest in exploring the boundaries of electronic music should take an hour to kick back, relax, and listen to the soundtrack of Los Angeles.