Cartoon Network has a block of programming called Adult Swim that's quietly churned out some quality television over the years. No real shocker there. The real surprise is the amazing taste registered in Adult Swim's resulting soundtracks. For starters, there's the gritty 2005 collaboration between Broken Bells's Dangermouse and hip-hop legend MF Doom, which went on to become an unheralded cult classic. Then, there's late Japanese beat auteur Nujabes, whose jazzy ethereal musings became more popular than the cartoon they originally scored. But perhaps the artist most articulate of Cartoon Networks superb tastes is none other than beat-mangler sublime, Flying Lotus.
is his third full-length that — while not a direct byproduct of Cartoon Network — more than meets the lofty expectations set out by the blogosphere (count Thom Yorke as a major fan, he even provides a quick cameo).
The album's sound is massive, and sounds as though hip-hop, funk, electro, dub, grime and glitch were thrown in a blender with hallucinogens and momentarily turned up to high. The result is still pretty chunky; no sound is completely distilled. The mixture, however, is something special. It's equally at ease when used for a druggy sort of introspection or for raging at a dance party. Most of the time it's both.
For starters, there are no individual tracks. Rather, Cosmogramma
phases in and out of musical moods, usually with little to no warning. The listener is not only subjected to FlyLo's every whim, but is at his uncompromising mercy. It's a delightful sort of prostration, one that'd probably be considered masochistic if it weren't so well thought out.
The moods themselves are constructed in heavy layers. Some sound foreign, while others sound outright spacey. All of it makes for a very intricate sort of abstraction that gets more realized with every listen. The backing rhythms are so complex that at times it's hard to believe that the thing is supported under 4/4. FlyLo exercises amazing discipline in being able to sustain this sort of organized chaos over Cosmogramma
's 45+ minutes.
But be warned: Cosmogramma
is a challenging listen— one that requires multiple plays to fully appreciate. But in the end — that is, if you stick it out — you'll be treated to an experience that's incredibly rewarding. Drink up.-chris gayomali
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Flying Lotus on Myspace