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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