Los Angeles has had a habit of weaving a tapestry of counter-cultural movements within its modern music epoch; the oeuvre may have changed between the decades, each with its own faction, manifesto and iconoclastic heroes leading onto the next: the lost souls of the psychedelic Sixties’ rock era, idealistic and free; the rambunctious Seventies’ punk scene and its acrimonious rebellion; hip-hop’s social discourse of the Eighties, preaching for equality over ignorance; Nineties’ grunge and its animosity towards societal norms. Each decade’s scores indelibly etched upon the walls of the city that inspired its raconteurs. And now, its inherent ability to bear such pioneering opuses has lead to it being redefined again once again.
After the tantalising preludes of 1983 and Reset, Flying Lotus’ full length Warp Record debut Los Angeles beguiles from its inception. His idiosyncratic fusion of leftfield psychedelia, off-time electronic beats and loose quasi-trip hop arrangements are as addictive as they are inspiring.
As a body of work, Los Angeles is a vacuum for the emotions: aurally imaginative, its esoteric sounds and misplaced beats cascade, flirting with the senses and evoking confusion to the point of clarity. “Comet Course” flares with a glitched-out laptop aesthetic, warped tech beats colliding with a tripped-out dub bass; the lush analogue waves that transcend an opulent sound-scape in “Golden Diva”; the fluid bass line of “Testament” restrained by the earnest vocals of Gonja Sufi: compositions that leave the mind celestially distorted with colour, imagery and escapism.
From the spatially aware dub-tech of “Riot” to the organic legal highs of “GNG BNG” and “Parisian Goldfish”, it’s Flying Lotus’s masterful display of restraint in producing beats that are not over-cooked, self-congratulatory and myopic. Instead, they are achingly natural, like a mother’s heartbeat, unconscious and infusing.