While he runs L.A.'s massively influential Brainfeeder label, Flying Lotus has for a long while now appeared isolated from his own fathered scene, perched in a visibly stratified demigod position. Not that he doesn't deserve it; Cosmogramma was an immense labyrinth of intertwining jazz and hip-hop themes refracted through the skewed prism of what he dubs "beat music." It was an impressive album, but not an easy one.
It's heartening to hear that Ellison's latest EP, Pattern + Grid World, hearkens towards simpler times. It's the first Flying Lotus release in recent memory that fits in with his homegrown Brainfeeder community—the sound of this demigod coming down to party with the mortals for a night. It's as if Cosmogramma was something he needed to get out of his system, such is the joyfully playful nature of these new tracks. Opener "Clay" carries the only recognizable trace of the jazz preoccupation so prominent on Cosmogramma, driven by glowing synths that twirl and couple like meeting strands of nucleotides. From then on we're treated to 8-bit-anthems, rustic wooden drum & bass ("Jurassic Notion"/"M Theory"), Jokeresque-synth flights ("Camera Day") and more. Each track—most under three minutes—is a little vignette, benefitting from a singular and complete focus that his hyper-twitchy album tracks often lacked.
Pattern + Grid World is so endearing because it sounds like Ellison, free of expectation or narrative, is simply having fun. Perhaps paradoxically, it's this giddy sense of freedom that allows the loosely-defined producer the transcendence he's often ascribed, rising above the rafters of convention while remaining firmly grounded. "Kill Your Co-Workers" assimilates juke percussion and Ghost Box-esque nostalgia synths before heading full bore into a melody that sounds like it's piping out of someone's Game Boy. Whether playing with Hoover-like synths and bending them in extreme directions on "Physics for Everyone!" or letting loose explosive rimshots on "PieFace," you can almost hear Ellison's Cheshire Cat grin through the controlled cacophony.
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Tracklist: Flying Lotus - Pattern + Grid World 01. Clay
02. Kill Your Co-Workers
04. Time Vampires
05. Jurassic Notion/M Theory
06. Camera Day
07. Physics for Everyone!