Flying Lotus - Pattern+Grid World (EP)
As postmodernist space odysseys go, Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma has confidently weaved itself into the lineage of Sun Ra and his Astro Infinity Arkestra's Strange Strings, Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth and Afrika Bambaata's Planet Rock.
While Cosmogramma is a monolithic convergence of 20th and 21st century musical forms, high in concept and wide in musical collaboration, Pattern+Grid World pulls the focus back to Steven Ellison and his machines. These machines are speaking (and possibly looking as well, judging by the EP's cover) from the go, as "Clay" introduces itself in a fog of synth and vocoder and gives way to one of the many surprises here, the schizophrenic ping-ponging electro of "Kill Your Co-Workers". Drenched in alternating melodies, it's a synthetic counterpart to the grand string and harp arrangements of Cosmogramma, making acclaimed illustrator Theo Ellsworth's subtly psychedelic cover image of vision-through-noise all the more intimate.
When Flying Lotus records hit their stride, all buttons labeled "pause" and "stop" disappear, and this one is no different. "Pie Face" is led by icy keys that could almost be mistaken for classic grime, before the stoned plastic marching band steps in. "Time Vampires" amazingly lands somewhere between vintage DJ Premier and Lee Hazelwood, while the stripped back bass and drum explorations of "Jurassic Notion/M Theory" are as shamanic and ceremonial as anything you're likely to hear come out of California. If "Camera Day" brings to mind a certain crew of dungeon-dwelling ATLiens, it won't come as much of a surprise that Killer Mike found its syrupy bounce recently inspiring.
Much of the messages surrounding Cosmogramma's release as well as reportage on the world's ever-emerging beat scenes has painted a picture of Flying Lotus as a patriarchal figure blazing the trail for scores of young artists with new conceptual notions of what can be done with a drum machine and a dream. While this notion is certainly not inaccurate, it sometimes overshadows the fact that FlyLo is also an incredibly singular entity. However, as "Physics For Everyone!" stutters to a close, if you listen closely you might just make out the sound of another kid in his room somewhere in the world, anxiously tapping out his first beat.