After a few drinks one sluggish evening this summer at Flying Lotus’ two-story house in the Mount Washington hills, the fusionist producer was feeling good. So he posted a gang of unfinished tracks on his Soundcloud streaming account, including a remix of Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You.” This would be no big deal if Flying Lotus weren’t always being watched. But when he awoke, his drunken impulse was scavenged and praised by Pitchfork, Spin and every click-monkey blog in the hype machine.
“I woke up and was like, ‘Why did I do that?’ ” The 29-year-old, Winnetka-raised producer laughs off the incident 48 hours later, after subsequently removing the rough draft from the Internet. “I wouldn’t give a shit when MySpace was on, but now I feel like a lot of young producers are, like, ‘What’s he gonna do?’ I have to always be on my shit, which is cool, but I can’t fuck around.”
These producers seek a chronometer and a weather vane — a window into the current zeitgeist and where to warp next.
But this vigilance is not confined to those watching the throne. The beat samurai born Steven Ellison frequently collaborates with Thom Yorke, whose last Radiohead album revealed DNA from Lotus and the artists on his Brainfeeder label. Last year, Lotus even coaxed Yorke to perform at Low End Theory, the Lincoln Heights beat-scene hub.
Same with Erykah Badu — another guest on Lotus’ new album, Until the Quiet Comes, which dropped Oct. 2 on the biblical British electronic imprint Warp Records.
It’s been like this since 2010’s Cosmogramma, Flying Lotus’s third record, which propelled him from underground vanguard to international festival mainstay — the lone IDM (intelligent dance music) DJ in a Sargasso Sea of epileptic lights and concussive drops.
Lotus achieved stardom without compromising sonic or aesthetic integrity. There were no bro-step moves to the middle, no awkward haircuts, no dilution. What we got was a deeply personal sound clash, a dense and frantic reconciliation of psychedelic jazz, instrumental hip-hop, glitchy electronic and ethereal folk.
The emotional gravity rooted itself in the recent passing of Lotus’ mother, as well as that of his great-aunt, Alice Coltrane, the harpist, pianist and Bodhisattva wedded to sax god John Coltrane.
Cosmogramma was a coronation. The totemic dance website Resident Adviser named it album of the year. Pitchfork bestowed an 8.8 rating and coveted “Best New Music” distinction. The Weekly put Lotus on its cover and called him the “electronic Jimi Hendrix…
Read more: Jeff Weiss, LA Weekly