Flying Lotus and his contemporaries in LA’s experimental electronic scene got their start at a seedy, downtown dive bar where weekly party Low End Theory has been held since 2006. Now the low-end sound, most similar to bass-driven UK dubstep and West Coast glitch, is struggling to grow up and distance itself from American “brostep.”
Flying Lotus, aka 28-year-old Steven Ellison, has traditionally leaned toward a quieter, jazz-influenced sound, but on his new album, Until the Quiet Comes, he turns up the bass. The album opens with thick beats and jangly bells on two of its best tracks, “All In” and “Getting There,” and transitions to dreamier melodic interludes layered over spastic breakbeats, residing somewhere between jazz and jungle.
The album hits its stride seven songs in with “Sultan’s Request,” a booty-shaking track with a thumping bass line that wobbles through complex sub-frequency changes. The momentum continues in the eight-bit, video-game beeps of “Putty Boy Strut,” and turns tropicália in “See Thru to U,” which features the haunting vocals of Erykah Badu. The title track continues the high-pitched, Eastern-influenced percussion, softened here by flamenco guitar. But by the eleventh track of the eighteen-song album, it grows airy and ambient, shifting into background music.
Until the Quiet Comes indicates an evolution for the low-end sound, successfully fusing dub, instrumental hip-hop, and world beat — but if you’re seeking the dirty bass that originally popularized the party and its DJs, you’re better off with The Gaslamp Killer’s debut album, Breakthrough. (Warp Records)