By Toussaint Egan
In 2008, California-based electronic musician Steven Ellison, better known as “Flying Lotus”, experienced a meteoric rise to fame following the release of his sophomore album, Los Angeles. His third album, Cosmogramma, was released to equal critical acclaim, going on to win multiple awards and cementing his reputation as a modern pioneer of electronic music. With his latest album, Until the Quiet Comes, the eclectic beat-master has finally come back down to Earth in a way that is both refreshingly new and unmistakably all his own.
Until the Quiet Comes features not only a number of returning collaborators such as vocalist Laura Darlington and Radiohead front-man Thom Yorke, but also sees the inclusion of a number of prolific new faces such as hip hop songstress Erykah Badu and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. However, it’s Nicki Randa’s much-too-short performance on the track “Getting There” that steals the show.
One of the most noticeable improvements of this album over past ones is the presence of distinguishable movements within and between tracks. For example, “Putty Boy Strut” is a deceptively childish song that starts off simply enough but soon blossoms into something much stranger and serene before near-seamlessly merging into the next track.
Many of these progressive musical cues are owed to the contributions of West Coast bass guitarist Thundercat, an artist who was for the most part previously featured on only one track from Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma, who now plays a much more prominent role on this album. The lead single, “See Thru To U”, featuring Ms. Badu and Thundercat is the starkest example of the album’s divergent musical structure. The disheveled off-kilter beats and the crackling hiss of artificial vinyl static typically associated with Flying Lotus’ signature sound are for the most part gone, replaced instead by multiple layers of bass line and snare loops interwoven with Erykah’s crooning melodicism.
If listening to Los Angeles is like going for a midnight drive through the city streets of the album’s namesake, and Cosmogramma is like careening through some wacked-out space odyssey, then listening to Until the Quiet Comes is like walking into a dark forest of disembodied voices and orphaned sounds, each of them trying to help guide you on the long way back home. There’s an almost ethereal quality to all of the tracks, compelling the listener to probe deeper into the world that Flying Lotus has built. Though the album on a whole is filled with a variety of highlight moments and fantastic individual tracks, it remains one that is still best experienced from start to finish.
Until the Quiet Comes is both a departure and a natural progression for Flying Lotus as a musician. Because of this, it’s likely that this album could become a point of friction between Lotus’ preexisting fan base and curious new listeners. However, I believe that this album represents a necessary and significant step forward in this artist’s already sterling career. To close here’s a quote from the man himself, pulled from a recent promotional interview with Pitchfork Music,
“As crazy as everything has been over the past few years, I’ve felt like that quiet place in the mind, that quiet space is the hardest to find. So I wanted to make a record that was just a journey to that place.”
Well done, Mr. Ellison. Well done.
Standout Tracks: Getting There, All the Secrets, Putty Boy Strut, See Thru To U, Electric Candyman, me Yesterday//Corded
Overall Score: 9 out of 10