New Flying Lotus album “You’re Dead!”

Flying Lotus' You're dead!

Fly­ing Lotus’ You’re dead!

If secret­ly, in a hid­den cor­ner of your psy­che kept secret­ly secret­ed just for you, you qui­et­ly sus­pect that that man that young mas­ter Zim­mer­man riles against with such sav­age enthu­si­asm on the first of those three extra­or­di­nary albums from 1966 is star­ing back at you from that mir­ror. And that some­how, inex­plic­a­bly, you’ve mor­phed into Jones, Mis­ter, then this is the album to dis­play so loud­ly and with such pride at the head of your playlist.

In his guise as Fly­ing Lotus Steven Elli­son is the man respon­si­ble for keep­ing U2 and Radio­head awake at night as they toss and turn in their tor­tured desire to stay rel­e­vant. Thom Yorke was actu­al­ly a guest vocal­ist on Flylo’s – as he’s inevitably been dubbed – last cou­ple of albums, the break­through Cos­mo­gram­ma from 2010 and Until the Qui­et Comes in 2012, reviewed ear­li­er here.

Flylo gets grilled by Thom Yorke.

Fly­lo gets grilled by Thom Yorke.

You’re Dead! is his fifth album, and it’s effort­less­ly, daz­zling­ly rel­e­vant, and almost casu­al­ly if tri­umphant­ly cur­rent. Nom­i­nal­ly a con­cept album, it’s as much an explo­ration of the tex­ture and feel of sounds as it is of the idea and real­i­ty of death.

That excla­ma­tion mark, so often so irri­tat­ing­ly redun­dant, here hits the nail on the head, as they point out on their review on Pitch­fork here, where it gets an 8.3.

The album man­ages to be at once light and airy, and yet clear­ly con­tem­pla­tive as it con­sid­ers and pon­ders the inevitable. The art work per­fect­ly cap­tures that lightheavy, trip­py dip­py sense of hap­py res­ig­na­tion pro­pelled and punc­tu­at­ed by the rhythms and ten­sions of 21st cen­tu­ry hip hop.

Elli­son is quite sim­ply the man, and this my friend is where it’s at. You can see the video for Nev­er Catch Me fea­tur­ing Kendrick Lamar here.

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8 Albums You Might Have Missed in 2013.

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra.

The Bryan Fer­ry Orchestra.


8. More Is Than Isn’t, RJD2.

When Dead­ringer came out in 2002 RJD2 was hailed as the nat­ur­al part­ner in crime  to DJ Shad­ow. He lost his way ever so slight­ly in the inter­im, but this his 6th solo effort is a decid­ed return to form.

Bor­rowed beats and riffs fused with hiphop and RnB, effort­less­ly bal­anced and blend­ed. It gets a 7.7 from Pitch­fork here.

7. Psy­chic, Dark­side.

Nico­las Jaar and Dave Har­ring­ton teamed up as Dark­side for this impres­sive­ly cin­e­mat­ic slice of indi­etron­i­ca, reviewed by me ear­li­er here. It gets an impressed 9.0 from Pitch­fork here.

Daft Punk.

Daft Punk.

 6. Ran­dom Access Mem­o­ries, Daft Punk.

Just in case you some­how missed this, album of the year, reviewed ear­li­er by by me here. Majes­tic.


5. Same Trail­er Dif­fer­ent Park, Kacey Musgraves.
Alt coun­try has yet anoth­er improb­a­bly young, old before her time star to sit beside the likes of Caitlin Rose, who’s 2010 debut Own Side Now I reviewed ear­li­er here.

Pris­tine melodies tell tales of woe and wast­ed lives, and are served up by a voice that would melt and break hearts.

4. AMOK, Atoms For Peace.

The debut album form the indie super­group melds Tom Yorke’s vocals with Brazil­ian beats, and sets them against a twitchy indi­etron­i­ca back­drop. Reviewed by my ear­li­er here.

Julianna-Barwick3. Nepenthe, Julian­na Barwick.
The sec­ond album prop­er from her after her break­through The Mag­ic Place in 2011, reviewed by me ear­li­er here.

Record­ed with Alex Somers, the Sig­ur Ros col­lab­o­ra­tor and the string quar­tet Ami­ina in Ice­land, it has the haunt­ing, ethe­re­al feel of peek era 4AD Records, when The Cocteau Twins, TMC and Dead Can Dance fused bliss with grunge. It gets an 8.5 from Pitch­fork here.



2. The Jazz Age, The Bryan Fer­ry Orchestra.

20s jazz cuts of clas­sic Roxy Music and Bryan Fer­ry tracks, it was reviewed by me ear­li­er here. It will either leave you utter­ly per­plexed, or be the most obvi­ous­ly bril­liant idea for an album imaginable.

BEELD21. The Essen­tial Mix 2011, Nico­las Jaar.

Two years old at this stage, but if you’ve yet to down­load this, do so here and now. Its two hour length means that Jaar has the lux­u­ry of, when he wish­es, play­ing the whole track. As he does with the Broth­ers Four’s 1960 clas­sic “Green­fields”, which melds 50s doo wop with 60s folk, the Lati­no sounds of Los Ange­les’ Negroes’ “Tu y tu Mirar”, or the typ­i­cal­ly del­i­cate Kei­th Jar­rett track, “Encore”.

In between, you get snatch­es of the Aphex Twin, snip­pets of Jon­ny Green­wood’s score for There Will Be Blood and, best of all, Ange­lo Badala­men­ti talk­ing us through the theme tune to Twin Peaks. Sub­lime.

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Thom Yorke’s Far From Solo Project an Impressive Hit.

atoms_amok_packshot_5Atoms For Peace is the group that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke put togeth­er in 2009 so that he could tour his recent­ly released solo album Era­sure. And their debut album, AMOK, is basi­cal­ly a fol­low-up to that.

Atoms For Peace are made up of long time Radio­head pro­duc­er and mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist Nigel Godrich, Flea, the bassist from the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers and drum­mers Joey Waronker and Mau­ro Refosco.

The lat­ter is a Brazil­ian musi­cian who has toured for years with David Byrne, and he became one of the pio­neers of what came to be known as World Music when he set up his record label Lua­ka Bop in 1990.

The sub­se­quent arrival into our liv­ing rooms of the sounds of Latin Amer­i­ca, Africa and Asia was one of the hap­pi­er off­shoots of glob­al­iza­tion. And it’s that sound and his pres­ence that rever­ber­ate, hap­pi­ly, through­out this album.

AMOK is basi­cal­ly the slight­ly more melod­ic sound­ing album that we expect­ed to get with Era­sure but didn’t. Most of the more recent Radio­head albums have been dri­ven by the con­flict between con­fronta­tion­al, twitchy dig­i­tal beats and the seduc­tive deliv­ery of Yorke’s melodies. But all of that takes on a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent feel here as each of the tracks are gov­erned by a com­mand­ing afrobeat.

brian enoIndeed, from the moment that the first track kicks in, it’s impos­si­ble not to hear in the twang of the lead gui­tar the sounds of west Africa, and specif­i­cal­ly those of Fela Kuti. And the album that fol­lows is a won­der­ful mix­ture of nerdy indie intro­spec­tion fil­tered through infec­tious and unin­hib­it­ed glob­al rhythms.

Yorke has said that it was the impres­sion­is­tic song writ­ing of Byrne that inspired (and slight­ly intim­i­dat­ed) him on this album. But what you hear here more than any­thing else is echoes of the col­lab­o­ra­tion that Byrne and Eno pro­duced in the 1980s with My Life In the Bush Of Ghosts. And AMOK is a gen­tle com­pan­ion piece to that, with­out in any way being overt­ly deferential.

It gets a slight­ly grudg­ing 6.9 from the boys from Pitch­fork here. Which isn’t bad. But doesn’t real­ly do jus­tice to quite how enjoy­able the album is. Under­stat­ed, yes. But mem­o­rably so.

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Flying Lotus’ inventive new album “Until The Quiet Comes”.

Until The Qui­et Comes is the 4th album from Fly­ing Lotus and con­tin­ues his fear­less for­ay into the very out­er realm of approach­able pop. It’s still in oth­er words a con­ven­tion­al album, but you’re unlike­ly to have heard music that sounds any­thing quite like it.

Or rather, it sounds like stuff you’d already be famil­iar with, but all the dif­fer­ent parts have been mold­ed and fash­ioned in a star­tling­ly orig­i­nal manner.

Steven Elli­son, to give him his full name, is a devo­tee of the pio­neer pro­duc­er J Dil­la. And, as the grand nephew of Alice Coltrane, her­self an accom­plished free jazz musi­cian, as well as being the wife of the leg­endary sax­o­phon­ist John Coltrane, his take on con­tem­po­rary music was always going to be both eclec­ti­cal­ly mul­ti-cul­tur­al and aggres­sive­ly experimental.

But it was only real­ly with his third album, Cos­mo­gram­ma that the world began to sit up and take notice. Just­ly laud­ed across the board, the boys from Pitch­fork gave it an august 8.8 here. So this is his poten­tial­ly dif­fi­cult follow-up.

Until The Qui­et Comes occu­pies the same sort of ter­rain that Radio­head mapped out in their more rest­less moments on Kid A and Amne­si­ac, and that were then fur­ther explored on Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Era­sure.

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Yorke sur­faces again here as a guest vocal­ist, just as he had on Cos­mo­gram­ma, and is here joined by Erykah Badu. But nei­ther are allowed – or seek – to over­whelm, and are just one more fea­ture in an unchar­tered and sur­pris­ing vista. 

It is qui­eter than Cos­ma­gram­ma, as the boys from Pitch­fork note in their excel­lent review of it, here, where they gave it a mea­sured 8.5. It’s still a land­scape pock-marked by dig­i­tal blips, where con­ven­tion­al melodies are for­ev­er being lost in rhyth­mic detours. But some­how, those detours are less nervy and more mea­sured than they were on the pre­vi­ous album.

What it is more than any­thing else is a head­phones album. It’s not the kind of thing you’re going to be return­ing to every day. But when you do and the mood takes, you’ll be very glad that you did.

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