A proggy, jazzy masterpiece that makes Skrillex look like Cliff Richard
If Flying Lotus’ last album, ‘Cosmogramma’, was made in a galaxy far, far away, his fourth, ‘Until The Quiet Comes’, is his return to earth. If the last was about rhythm, the follow-up is about melody. If his past work gave you an electric shock, this one will blow your head apart. At times it’s a prog record, as it meanders and experiments. At other times, it’s psychedelic (see the tripped-out ‘DMT Song’ featuring Thundercat, a song about the drug dimethyltryptamine). But a nod to jazz is at its heart, and FlyLo doesn’t have to look far for that influence – his great-aunt and uncle were Alice and John Coltrane.
He’s said that making ‘Until The Quiet Comes’ was his “whole grieving process” following the death of his mother. In the aftermath, he started listening to his family’s music again after an overload of “soulless” electronica. Perhaps as a reaction against that, he directed his focus to live instruments. Keys, strings, harp, brass and steel pans are prominent on the album (at times played by cousin Ravi Coltrane), even more so than the vocals provided by Erykah Badu (on ‘See Thru To U’), Niki Randa (on ‘Getting There’ and ‘Hunger’) and Laura Darlington (on ‘Phantasm’).
His keyboard and engineering lessons have clearly paid off, too. There are noises throughout that are like nothing you’ve heard before: monkey cries and shrieks in ‘Electric Candyman’, the popping candy beat of ‘Tiny Tortures’, the distorted vocals of ‘Me Yesterday/Corded’ and the celestial chimes of ‘Until The Colours Come’. But it’s not an avant-garde album that arrogantly flings out the new over substance. You feel each unusual beat or time signature has been placed for a reason. While FlyLo is definitely playing around – there’s humour on ‘DMT Song’, for example – he’s totally in control.
Fans of the live FlyLo experience will be pleased there are a few bangers. ‘Sultan’s Request’ has a stomach-curdling bass that makes Skrillex look like Cliff Richard, while ‘The Nightcaller’ is way funky, and ‘Putty Boy Strut’ sprints along with merry claps before a hip-hop bassline slows it down. Thom Yorke features on the aforementioned ‘Electric Candyman’, a languid and dreamy R&B track with a refrain of “say my name” next to sinister rainforest caws and a disquieting time signature. Then there’s ‘All In’, the opening track, which is the most beautiful thing this writer has heard this year.
If ‘Until The Quiet Comes’ has a flaw, it’s that occasionally the female vocals seem superfluous and dated, but that’s transcended by FlyLo laughing at convention and pulling another unworldly lick from his top hat. Ultimately, this album is the sound of the future.