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Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

 

If you're in search of some of the most forward-thinking artists around, you will never fail with Warp Records. Recently, the label has extended its innovative arm into genres outside of electronic music, including hip-hop, indie rock, and math rock. But, Warp Records built its empire upon the foundation of electronic music and it will always remain at the forefront of the genre and its subsidiaries. So, it is no surprise that the latest release from Warp Records is one of the most original pieces of electronic music that will come out this year. Oh, and if you think originality is an implicit way of saying experimental, which you may loathe, don't fret. I'll explain.

Flying Lotus' new album, Los Angeles, is a soulful blend of R&B rhythms and electronic experimentation, combining hip-hop, downtempo, trip-hop, dance, breakbeat, and ambient styles, which will satisfy the tastes of any fan of at least one of those genres. If you like them all, then you just struck it rich. From the opening track onwards, we find the signature Warp elements that made other Warp artists, such as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre, and Boards of Canada, some of the most unique and some of the best artists of this generation. With its hip-hop influence, Los Angeles, is most comparable to Prefuse 73, but the album escapes the confines of imitation. What separates Flying Lotus from Prefuse 73 is the experimental aspect, incorporating the heavy, glitch rhythms that Aphex Twin has been known to create, the ambient, melodic background drones that Boards of Canada employs, and the static coating that drenches most Chris Clark tracks.

Now, I know this sounds like too much to handle – like an overwhelming amount of influences that could lead to dissonance. But, Flying Lotus is a composer, strategically integrating sounds into each song without overdoing it or being minimal. He is a scientist, optimizing the amount of sound that enters your ears and takes over your brain. Los Angeles is rhythmically flowing, keeping your body moving throughout the entire album. It is engaging, but somehow manages to keep your focus without making you feel focused. It demands your attention, but does it so effortlessly that you don't realize how lost you are in each song. Just listen to the closing track, "Auntie's Lock/Infinitum," and you'll forget where you are and what you're doing, but when the song ends and you fall to the ground, you'll wish you were still floating.

- Caleb Morairty

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