Tag Archives: Flying Lotus

Album of the Day: The Comet is Coming, “Death To The Planet”

Earth is dying, stewing in its own waste. The sky is an ominous shade of red, a deep crimson-like hue, foretelling our imminent doom. Beneath it, with mere minutes to live, we dance gleefully to the pending apocalypse. These are images that could come to mind when listening to Death To The Planet, the dramatic new EP from British trio The Comet is Coming, whose music blends jazz, cosmic funk, and tribal dance into a thick fluid. Led by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, drummer Max Hallett, and synth player Dan Leavers, the band exudes an intergalactic tone that lands somewhere in outer space, akin to psych-jazz visionaries Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders. But while those pioneers envisioned space travel as a relaxing trip to nirvana, there’s a stark sense of urgency to The Comet is Coming, a feeling that the end is near and there’s no escaping the despair.

Death To The Planet feels shaded by recent world events, although the music doesn’t address them directly. In an era of “fake news” and mounting political tension, there’s a dark fog looming above these songs, even if the rhythms are fairly upbeat. While the group’s previous record mixed psych-rock and hip-hop with slightly brighter results, Death To The Planet is overtly jazz and techno, equally suited for nightclubs and low budget sci-fi movies. On “Final Eclipse,” in particular, the crew assembles a steady 4/4 beat that grows more turbulent as it unfolds. Near the four-minute mark, Hallett and Hutchings inject squealing horns and gushing drums into the mix, pushing the song to its euphoric peak. It’s not only the EP’s best song, it best epitomizes the record’s disparate ambience: the existential dread and the joy of surrender.

The EP conceives of death the same as Flying Lotus’ 2014 LP, You’re Dead!, which also viewed extinction as a bright journey to the afterlife. “We see death as the first stage of rebirth,” goes a line from The Comet’s album description. “A chance for new ideas, sounds and ways of interacting to grow.” In a way then, Death To The Planet isn’t just about literal destruction; it conceptualizes life after the apocalypse, when the world we’ve known is gone, and it’s time to create new political, social, and economic structures. Not that we can relate to that sorta thing.

Marcus J. Moore

Album of the Day: Elaquent, “Worst Case Scenario”

Having already established himself as a prolific beatmaker with a growing catalog, Elaquent could’ve simply released another collection of sample-heavy, head-nodding instrumentals—that’s how he built his fan base, after all. But on Worst Case Scenario, his latest album, Elaquent delivers a personal work focused on life’s unexpected twists. Scenario deals with the search for inner peace in a world of constant chaos, and learning how to be content when things don’t go as planned. Its songs are transformative, and the album as a whole seems designed to calm and to relax.

Its 12 tracks are full of nuanced beats that contain snippets of Elaquent’s previous work, mostly from the albums The Scenic Route, Less Is More and Good Karma. While he’s always spiked his sound with lush R&B and soul, Worst Case Scenario feels richer and more fully realized, a culmination of the wistful aesthetic he’s strived for over the years. On “Nollieflip,” Elaquent constructs a Dilla-esque stomp, complete with faint keys, floating organs, and rising synths. “Spur of the Moment,” with its heavy drums and cricket chirps, has a strong nocturnal vibe, landing somewhere between Oddisee’s instrumental work and Flying Lotus’ Cali-focused electronica.

Rising singer/producer (and Kendrick Lamar collaborator) Iman Omari adds emotional weight to album standout “Last Breath,” and producers Go Yama and trumpeter Octavio Santos flesh out the jazz-influenced two-step of “Caviar.” Worst Case Scenario is an album that burrows deep into the soul—tranquil music for troubled times.

Andrew Martin

What Happened to Benny B. Blonco?

Benny B. Blonco

There was a time when artists like The Weeknd and Flying Lotus operated behind a veil of mystery; you knew about their music before you knew about the artists themselves. For New York producer Benny B. Blonco, that narrative is reversed: the once-rising composer vanished from the public eye in 2010. No one knew what to make of his sudden disappearance. All that’s left now is a dusty digital archive for beat-heads who crave the scene’s gritty compositions of the late ’00s.   Continue reading

Daedelus’s New Album Was Inspired By Young Thug, Anaïs Nin, and The Percolator

Daedalus

Daedalus. Photo by Gari Askew.

Alfred Darlington has made 17 albums since 1998, and has performed with some of music’s most talented electronic producers—Flying Lotus, DJ Rashad, and Teebs, among others. Darlington—who makes music under the name Daedelus—was an essential part of the Los Angeles beat scene that emerged from the Low End Theory club around 2006, where hip-hop heads fused blunted beats with varied electronic styles.

Still, despite his prodigious output, Darlington says he hits creative roadblocks. “It doesn’t feel like I’m just sitting at a typewriter waiting for the words to come out,” he says, describing how tough it can be to create a new album. “I only try to write music when it calls to me. And oftentimes I find it such a gyre that I feel pretty embarrassed about it.”

Darlington turned 39 on Halloween, three days after the release of his latest album, Labyrinths, which blends the diverse array of electronic genres he’s played the past 20 years as a DJ and producer. He spoke with us at length about the album’s songs, and the people and art that influenced them.

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The Grand Resurrection of The Gaslamp Killer

William Bensussen
William Bensussen: The Gaslamp Killer. Photo by Philip Cosores for Bandcamp.

It’s been a little over three years since William Bensussen—better known as The Gaslamp Killer—almost died, but his recollection of the event is so vivid that he starts shouting whenever he talks about it. “I’m sorry I’m screaming,” he says, slowly calming down. “It’s just a really intense memory. I haven’t spoken about it in so long.”

On July 9th, 2013, the DJ and musician was returning to his home in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles via scooter when a gust of wind blew his hat from his head. He tried to grab it as it flew away, accidentally squeezing his front brakes. The combination of the wind, the winding roads, and the speed of the scooter had disastrous results: the vehicle flipped, landing directly on top of Bensussen and pinning him to the ground. Despite the severity of the accident, according to Bensussen, the paramedics who came to pick him up didn’t even want to admit him to the hospital.

“I have a lot to do with me being here,” he says, his blue eyes locked in and opened wide. “I was a fucking savage in the hospital. I talked shit to the ambulance drivers who were being lazy. They told me I didn’t have a scratch on me, but I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t lay back.”

Bensussen was suffering from massive internal bleeding, something the doctors and nurses who cared for him didn’t immediately notice.

“When they finally did see me, they said, ‘You’re so full of blood internally, and we don’t know what’s wrong. We have to explore.’ I asked my friend Brandy to tell my parents I love them and to tell [my girlfriend] Allison I love her. Then I gave her the password to my phone, and I was out.”

He woke up under a heavy dose of morphine with 40 staples running from his pelvis to his chest, from where the doctors had removed his spleen. And though the LAC+USC Medical Center—where he was admitted—is visible from the living room window of his multi-level home where he now sits, he doesn’t get squeamish thinking about the procedure. Thanks to the morphine, he doesn’t remember most of it.

Bensussen remained sober for six months after the surgery, but has since returned to smoking weed, casually puffing a joint for the duration of the interview. Even when he’s stoned, his cadence and exaggerated body language doesn’t slow. He swings his arms wildly while speaking, and ends up spilling a Pamplemousse-flavored La Croix all over his white desk. He doesn’t pause his story for a second while cleaning it up.

Anyone who’s seen The Gaslamp Killer perform knows about his kinetic, untamed energy and his frantic stage demeanor, and he’s not much different in the comfort of his own home. His long beard and voluminous hair are perfectly suited to his larger-than-life personality.

Despite his accident, the months spent healing in his home, and the worry that his career could be in jeopardy, Bensussen hasn’t let his circumstances get the better of him.

At the time of the crash, he’d already begun working on ideas for what would eventually become his sophomore album, Instrumentalepathy; while the injury may have slowed down the process, the resulting album wouldn’t have been possible without it.

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