Flying Lotus Returns to London

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Last year, in a basement club in East London, California’s Flying Lotus showed local dubstep fans how elastic the electronic music genre can be.

As Flying Lotus subverted its two-step, dub and breakbeat elements with strange space-like noises, abrupt beat shifts and subtle, meditative melodies and samples, the crowd didn’t always know how to react.

Back in London recently, this time with Infinity, his touring six-piece band, Flying Lotus, aka Steven Ellison, performed aggressively expansive interpretations of songs from his 2010 album “Cosmogramma”. This so-called “space opera” of an album has been described by critics as brilliant but aimless, unique but complicated, scene-defining but hyperactive. These seemingly contradictory descriptions carry some weight: “Cosmogramma” is indeed ambitious and somewhat inaccessible.

The full blog post, on the August 18 Flying Lotus and Infinity show at London’s ICA, is at INTELLIGENT LIFE and also here, after the jump.

Performed with a roster of musicians including Ravi Coltrane (Ellison’s cousin, who was signed by Blue Note Records this year), the show in London could be described in similar terms. Bass solos from Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner occasionally veered into fast and slappy territory. Once or twice, Gerry Gibbs’s live drumming simplified some of the album’s more interesting electronic beats in a way that robbed some songs of their original, glitchy flow. Moments could have passed for jam-band material, which thrilled some audience members and provoked raised eyebrows among others.

Still, the show could be classified as “badass”. On the drums, Gibbs ripped through songs with a fierce, mammoth energy, but also knew when to pull back and let the harp or violin step into the spotlight. Andreya Triana’s voice sounded incredibly lush (aided by certain voice effects). And throughout, Ravi Coltrane performed improvised solo passages that should be transcribed and published in a book called “How to Play the Tenor Sax Like Nobody’s Business”.

The small theatre inside London’s Institute for Contemporary Arts on this particular night felt like the place to be. The crowd’s collective level of interest in jazz, dubstep, electronica, hip hop or IDM was irrelevant. Similar to the way ageing punks proudly claim they “were there” to see the Ramones at one of their first CBGBs shows, many of us will be glad we witnessed Flying Lotus and Infinity when it was happening, in the moment, in the flesh.

Flying Lotus will release a new EP, “Pattern+Grid World”, on September 20th and 21st

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