Flying Lotus | Los Angeles
Most likely to: cool you down and freak you out
No single sound ever quite dominates the foreground of the trip-hoppy Los Angeles, Flying Lotus’s second full-length album. Not even the guest vocalists who appear on a handful of the album’s later tracks — Gonja Sufi, Dolly, Laura Darlington — rise above the gauzy murmur of the mix. No idea stays in the foreground for too long, each element merely part of an exquisitely rendered wave meant to go through you rather than to you. It’s as much of a pure state as an album; an icy, calm place paradoxically accessed through a profusion of noises, gurgling jungles and whirring moonscapes.
Los Angeles excels when it walks the razor edge between cool and a great, gnawing anxiety, as on the “Beginners Falafel,” with its galactic keyboard swell, muddy punch of bass, and sandpapery respirator sound counting off the bars. Similarly, “Golden Diva” is built around a sparse, repetitive synth melody, anchoring a tapestry of voices, bells, and bass that taper into the foreboding “Riot.” Los Angeles flirts with danceability on the playful “Parisian Goldfish” before countering with the blips and bleeps bouncing off the unconventional beat of “Sleepy Dinosaur.” It’s no surprise that the vocalists who appear on the spooky-sweet later tracks sing from behind curtains — they’re there for texture and balance as much as melody, mere cohabitants in Flying Lotus’s organic menageries.
Is this what’s playing in one of those boutiques where the staff doesn’t talk to you even if you buy something? Is this the chill-out album for when you want your chill with a tinge of nightmare? Is this the make-out album for when you’re making out with a girl whose body is segmented like a mantis? It’s all those things, depending on how you meditate on this fastidiously groomed cacophony, at once lush and austere.