Sometimes you just have to go back.
BlackPlastic can't be everywhere all at once and that is why we never got around to reviewing Flying Lotus' latest album Cosmogramma. But sometimes an album keeps pulling you back in and that is how it is with Cosmogramma. To pass it by forever more would leave a little itch in the soul.
Flying Lotus is one of those artists that seems to continually expand his horizons whilst still retaining enough focus to make each release different, challenging perhaps, yet still ultimately accessible and magnificent. He once made instrumental Hip-Hop but Cosmogramma could never be so conservatively labelled.
Opening with in-your-face aural-enema 'Clock Catcher', followed by a couple of heavy-set funk numbers it is track four, the Eastern sounds meets soulful strings of 'Intro//A Cosmic Drama', before Cosmogramma shows its true colours. From this point things become increasingly psychedelic - next track 'Zodiac Shit' is a half bass-heavy, half string-laden epic.
The obvious talking point: Thom Yorke's guest turn is actually remarkably subtle - his soulful vocal used sparingly yet worked into the very fabric of the song itself. And more than anything this freeform approach reminds BlackPlastic of jazz. 'Arkestry' is wandering trumpet and rolling drums and it feels like big band gone loco. The result is a little bit staggering.
'MmmHmm', featuring Thundercat, is probably Flying Lotus' most J Dilla moment yet. The first of a run of three beautifully varied but complimentary tracks, joined by funky house-inspired 'Do The Astral Plane' and the blues-y 'Satelllliiiiiiiteee', it marks Cosmogramma's highest point. But there is so much else hear - we haven't mentioned the ping pong sampling 'Table Tennis' featuring Laura Darlington or the dizzy closer 'Galaxy in Janaki', for starters.
Clearly increasingly inspired by his heritage (it's all too often pointed out that Flying Lotus was great-nephew to Alice and John Coltrane), as Flying Lotus gets more experimental his music gets more and more generous. BlackPlastic comes back to Cosmogramma now because it still has so much to say... Every listen feels just a little bit fresher.
Cosmogramma is out now on Warp, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].