Flying Lotus Flying LotusCosmogramma: Alt Takes
Flying Lotusis a thankful man. Thankful to those who have actually bought his album “Cosmogramma” instead of turning on their Illegal Download Machine. The Angelino beatmaker had various alternate takes, discarded tracks and the odd remix in his archive, sonic patches of enormous beauty that he now uses to compensate those who’ve proven most loyal. FlyLo is giving those who invested in him a kiss in the neck, an exclusive nine tracks, using a very ingenious system: you surf to http://flying-lotus.com/trigger, turn on your webcam, hold the “Cosmogramma” sleeve in front of it and, through an image recognition technique that goes beyond my comprehension, the system accepts you as one of the owners of the album and allows you to download “Alt Takes”. The theory is nice and even logical (those who pay deserve preferential treatment), but of course it’s no more than a declaration of good intentions, as it’s not very hard to get it from elsewhere on the Internet. So in spite of the item being a present for music buyers, it’s easily obtainable for smarty-pants, naughty kids and other fans of the free-culture. That’s how it is.
That said, what “Alt Takes” has to offer is not more than a juicy epilogue –juicy, but epilogue nonetheless– for one of the most breathtaking lessons in avant-garde hip-hop of the last few years. If anything is clear, it’s that the universe of psychedelic jazz and the experimental soul of “Cosmogramma” is so coarse and intoxicating that it can’t hurt to do some extra exploring of its parameters, no matter how far away they are from the quark-gluon plasma of its Big Bang. The material on this record obviously hasn’t got the quality of the actual album (there’s a reason it didn’t end up on it), but as the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
In this tessitura, “Alt Takes” is like unfolding an work of origami in order to see the folds. The view of the dismantled structure isn’t as beautiful, certainly, but it allows us to see the small parts that made “Cosmogramma” a perfect ensemble. What are those small pieces? Well, for example, the harp arrangements of “Clock Catcher”, the minimalist and almost Picasso-like emulsion of “Pickled” or the micro-rush of psychotropics of “Drips Mix3”, none of them are longer than one minute. But there are also some pieces with more substance and visible to the naked eye. That’s where the longer and more weighty tracks come in. “Catacombs” is a present for the Venusian jazz lovers: it flows softly and with nerve, the bass is feline, the guitar arrangements are dreamy. “Melting3” are 120 seconds of cosmic bossa nova few producers can pull off. The 2008 version of “Galaxy in Janaki” –followed, by the way, by the string arrangements of the next track– is based on a sonic chaos from where strange melodies, hypnotic dissonances and dreamy poly-rhythms emerge: it’s definitely one of the greater moments on the album. On the other extreme we find the violins of “Computer Face” –voluptuous and full of nostalgia–, which serve as the perfect intro to the most interesting cut of the lot. The Teebs remix of“Archway” once again confirms the greatness of an artist whose “Ardour” was one of the highlights on Brainfeeder in 2010. It looks like on the West coast, synergy still is lysergia.