Flying Lotus

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1983 Review

by Marisa Brown

Flying Lotus (or Alice Coltrane's great-nephew) proves that Plug Research is the perfect home for him with his debut full-length, 1983. Sounding like a mix between Ammoncontact and Dntel, Lotus layers spacy keyboards over bass-heavy beats, clearly very much influenced by the whole free jazz-based electronica and hip-hop Sa-Ra craziness that's prevalent in the L.A. area (he also takes a cue from Stones Throw producers Madlib and J Dilla, using fractured rhythms and subtle chords to propel the songs forward). However, unlike many of his labelmates, Lotus doesn't drag out his pieces; instead, all but two of them fall neatly under four minutes, keeping 1983 from becoming a masturbatory exercise in keyboard lines and instead making it very listenable, with beats that circle around without becoming predictable, pulling jazz and Brazilian rhythms into his own electronic-based production and creating a very coherent and listenable album. The individual songs are good -- especially "Pet Monster Shotglass," which, even though it clocks in at over six minutes, stays fresh and fun with its wet, sloshing beats, like rubber boots in mud, a kind of Plug Research interpretation of G-funk -- but it's the entire record that has the greatest effect. It's controlled and circular but also very warm and expressive, able to have fun, to not take itself too seriously. The closer, the Daedelus remix of the title cut, is almost video game-worthy, with quirky keys, neo-polka drums, and unintelligible arcade-esque vocal synths that dance around energetically. 1983 represents the best of what Plug Research and the entire genre is: intelligent, accessible, jazz-based electronica and left-field hip-hop that never fail to provoke listeners while also, and maybe more importantly, entertaining them simultaneously.

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