Flying Lotus proves on Pattern+Grid World that the only thing predictable about him is his consistent capacity to awe.
Shortly after the term “aquacrunk” went swimming around the music press to describe the liquid arrangements of the various experimental beat makers associated with the L.A.-based, Low End Theory scene, the movement’s luminary Steven Ellison (aka Flying Lotus) took to Twitter to dismiss the characterization before it stuck, saying “[d]ear journalists, [t]here is no such thing as ‘aquacrunk.’ Please stop trying to put us in a box. We’re just having fun making music.”
On Flying Lotus’s latest release, the seven-track Pattern+Grid World EP, the electronic music polyglot continues his protean quest to defy all-encompassing labels, while at the same time offering up an affair more easily digestible than his last full-length album and magnum opus, Cosmogramma. Whereas that release was a fall into the multi-layer rabbit hole, chock-full of esoteric density and idiosyncratic genre shifts, Pattern+Grid World could be seen as its whimsical-to-the-point-of-synth-loving companion.
Opener “Clay” hearkens back to the sound mined by FlyLo on his L.A. EP series. It's a hodgepodge of spacey ambience, wonky synths juxtaposed with jangling beats and a hint of stretched-out ethereal soul. “Kill Your Co-Workers” is an 8-bit whirlwind pushed along by a ping-pong backbeat and old-school NES samples. Highlight “Jurassic Notion/M Theory” rattles along in tribal drum-and-bass mentalism before speeding up the percussive tone mid-track to a Plastikman-like frenzy. On the superb closer “Physics for Everyone!”, smeared synths give way to intergalactic sirens that ultimately disintegrate into a digital glitch.
Coming in at just under 20 minutes, Pattern+Grid World is an all too brief affair that may be a bit disconcerting for those looking for the extensive headphone hypnotism that’s offered on the artist’s full lengths. However, even in bit-size doses, Flying Lotus proves that the only thing predictable about him is his consistent capacity to awe.