Review: Flying Lotus, “1983”

Flying Lotus
Plug Research

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

The luminous cluster burst that is Flying Lotus’ debut 1983 resembles other phenomena: the romantic indulgences of Daedelus (who contributes a hopped-up remix of the title track), the vocal chops and edits of Scott Herren, and the breakbeat soul of Madlib, Jay Dee and many others. But his vision is original. Indeed, his debut album unfolds with such severity and grace that it takes repeated listens to fully comprehend; it burns and disappears like a shooting star.

The “Space is the Place” vibe of the title track, which opens the disc, unfolds into “Sao Paolo,” a series of handclaps syncopated into percussive funk. The minute-long “Bad Actors” suite and its backhanded homage to Flying Lotus’ native L.A. morphs into “Pet Monster Shotglass” and an unfocused stutter-step beat. There is the final epiphany of “Untitled #7” and its soft, synthetic patter, the psychedelic ballad “Unexpected Delight” (voiced by Daedelus’ partner Laura Darlington), and the Daedelus remix. That’s eleven songs, 33 minutes, and one mostly instrumental journey into laptop metaphysics.

Born Steven Ellison and reportedly a nephew of Alice Coltrane, Flying Lotus has appeared in random spots: an Adult Swim-certified beat here, a Mia Doi Todd remix there. 1983 truly comes out of nowhere, however. While its parts aren’t genius, the whole of the album is impressively realized. It evokes a distinctly Los Angeleno haze, carrying your imagination from one end of the city to the other. Much like Daedelus, who seemingly burst onto the scene with Invention in 2001, Flying Lotus is a fully formed artist. Future perfection, it seems, will come when he pays closer attention to the details.

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