Flying Lotus: Until The Quiet Comes – a Review by M. Pitter

Flying Lotus’ highly anticipated forth album, Until The Quiet Comes, emits psychedelic elegance, effervescing introspective majesty. Lotus’ experimental music oftentimes presents obstacles for a mainstream audience to approach and connect to it. Though one could surely meet a distance between themselves and an engagement with the Flying Lotus’ art, one also has the invitation to take a ride and bask in the experience. Ellison stated in a Pitchfork interview, regarding Quiet’s release, that he “[tries] to convey this feeling of being innocent in a mystical state, being in a place that’s new, seeing things with brand new eyes, for better or worse.” In Quiet, each track passes dreamily entertaining wanton intentions to explore the far reaches of human consciousness depicted through music. Nurturing an atmosphere airy with oftentimes elusive mysticism and wonder throughout, the album presents an intellectual odyssey that seems troubled and disoriented at times, but always mobile. Moments of industrial and calculated ecstasy come to volume. Flying Lotus creates environments that tend to absorb us into its smooth throbs, electric whirlwinds and its synthed-out breaks into uncharted territories of sound. While this album tends to remain in a viscous cerebral flow, it doesn’t forget to be groovy.

Until The Quiet Comes

“All In” opens the album with a plunge, exploring unknown beauty and delight. There’s no problem with you picturing yourself suspended in a vortex, colored with scenes of nature, the ocean depths or the constellations, on earth or on some other far-faraway place, in which the things deemed unfathomable to humanity all of a sudden became familiar. The start and stop structure of the track allows listeners to bask in this for moments at a time. Flutters from celestial harps stream quickly across the track (perhaps influenced by his great aunt Alice Coltrane) all held within the bounds of intermittent chimes. Underlying aquatic elements rise through the other sounds, coming to ephemeral prominence over the instrumental like a verse does after a chorus. At the end of the track, we approach and enter into a serenity that marks the end of our vortex where eventually Niki Randa greets us, pulling us into the album to journey on.

Flying Lotus

“Getting There” with Niki Randa goes hard. It goes hard while keeping its poetic integrity: cool and radiant as digital rain (each and every drop strobe-lit) over an ultra modern world and intellect with the sweet soothings of her voice on the ear. The track adopts a classic hip-hop beat sequence developing into a hypnotic, entrancing fixture until it all ends too soon, when then we drift on into the next track.

“Until the Colours Come” could function as an interlude. The sounds coalesce to resemble a processor of sorts, letting the mind simmer from what came before allowing it to engage in this newly introduced mathematic, polygonal aspect which imbeds itself in the subsequent tracks.

Throughout the album, there’s a merger of various jazz genres, hip-hop and dexterous innovation. Listen to “Heave(n)”: this free jazz/hip-hop merger, that carries within it a convoluted animus. “See Thru to U” with Erykah Badu rocks on with a heavy jazz rhythm filled with the quick flicklings of a tight high hat and full tribal equilibrium. The singer resides within the instrumental, complimenting its general solemnity with vocalized understanding and receptiveness. “Until the Quiet Comes” finds its center and solace in the clapping hands from Nina Simone’s Sinnerman after a chilling soliloquy from Erykah Badu. “Only If You Wanna” develops out from the heavy funk of the previous track into light cymbals leading us up and away into a speak easy breeze, jazzed out, all the usual instruments of a tender trio jamming in good form with the distant echoes of a voice calling out from within some transcendent memory. The transition into this track among others makes manifest well the album’s calculated caprice and its tendency to swerve gently into the unexpected.

Erykah Badu

“Electric Candyman” trudges on in a downtempo mystique to the haunting whispers of Thom York until it all crashes into a quagmire, musically stylized in a hard glitch aesthetic, unable to break free from the malaise.

Flying Lotus’ Until The Quiet Comes features some minimalistic outbursts, elements of percussion and beeps, bleeps and blops all concentrated in a deeply focused synergy. Above the tappings and snappings, soft and meek, and sometimes the Nintendo-like exclamations – above all of this, hover softly reverbed bass lines like those from Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner in “Tiny Tortures” accompanied with dubbed excursions of melody. Similar meticulousness finds itself in “All The Secrets” as well, however, this particular track composed in glitch-strewn IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) cannot keep a consistent course, playing with our expectations. The style sounds quite similar to Prefuse 73’s fickle rhythms in One Word Extinguisher. This part of the odyssey chronicles misguided sound finding its niche for a brief moment under the consoling reign of alto murmurings as we hear in “All The Secrets”.

Listen to “DMT Song” and glide through a geometric dream in minimal gravity where shapes drift about sparsely, lingering in a steam, gradually forming into a spiraling current, bringing evolution to the shapes’ behavior to the point where they all slowly ooze together for a kaleidoscopic climax, keeping that form until the track spills into the next one.

“Nightcaller”, one of the few conventionally danceable songs on the album, brings widespread relief to follow the psychonautic wanderings of previous tracks. The hard use of synth, bobbing to a neo-disco beat later morphs into a more chilled G-Funk.

In the Lab

“Hunger” could function as yet another interlude. The immediate suspense in the beginning slides down into a nightmarish lair, a labyrinth of horrors where ghoulish wailings underlie incongruous bass lines and high pitches. Niki Randa provides an arduous voice for the song until it dissolves into a transition, suggesting an aimless escape.

“Phantasm” carries this evasion and outward movement on through piano wanderings and orchestral queries, searching for some resolve that may never come. Laura Darlington narrates doucement as she had in Cosmogramma. The album’s end, “Dream to Me”, wanders as well into what suggests an uncertain future, gritty, filled with undertones of white noise and extra-terrestrial winds. The track holds a certain remoteness as does the album as a whole itself. Distortion laden exchanges between the lonely moseying melodies and the lone monstrous hum becoming daunting before dying away form the core of the composition spurring everything else around it to follow it.

In the Pitchfork interview over the release of Until The Quiet Comes, Mr. Lotus explains how he finds “creating new music [to be] the best meditation. When I’m able to get into that space, nothing else matters, and I’m just a vessel for whatever the message is; I feel like I’m not in control. It’s like this organic communication, and I feel like that is the ‘quiet’, in a way.”

With this album, Flying Lotus continues to advance the bounds of sound organization catalyzing the evolution of music through time.

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