If you could take a bit of DNA from Tricky, mix it with a bit from John Zorn and temper it with a bit from Marice Ravel, you may well end up with something pretty much like Cosmogramma. Not that the latest full length album from Flying Lotus (aka Steven Ellison, and great-nephew of John and Alice Coltrane) sounds anything like any of these, but their genes are definitely there.
There's the electronic trippiness of Tricky; there's the crazy, comfy experimental jazz of John Zorn; and there's the subtle, dappled, fluid blends of colours and rhythms of Ravel. I can't imagine those three musicians in the same room together, let alone in the same music - but then, by any rekoning, Cosmogramma is an extraordinary album.
It represents quite a leap from Flying Lotus's previous work, Los Angeles, and even that was a pretty amazing show of what can be done when you take music off the mainstream dance floor, and bend it and break it a bit with Latinish, Africanish, Alienish beats.
Cosmogramma, however, takes you into freakier territory - some of it quite dark, but always with just enough stability there that never feel you're losing your footing entirely. It's like looking out of a slightly scary trip onto a dance floor that still lures you, even though its lights and beats are not predictable anymore, and the cool blues and greens get broken every now and then by flashes of red, and the steady beat beneath you seems to rumble once in a while, as if there could be an earthquake stirring in its sleep somewhere down there.
With guests vocals from Thom Yourke, Thundercat and Laura Darlington, and a guest sax from Ravi Coltrane, this is a pretty star-studded piece of work - but star-studded in the way that a distant galaxy is, where it's not so much the individual points of light you notice as their combined brilliance. And that's becase of the way Flying Lotus fuses his sounds - sounds of winds and strings amongst the laptop electronics - the way the disparate worlds of his guests and his influences all come together, blended but still themselves.
Comsogramma seems to invite you into the future and, when you listen to it, you may begin to feel that it could be tricking you just a bit - seducing you with the familiar but then holding you captive in a place that is alien and strange. You laze back into the big comfy chair of its lush and luxurious sounds, while creatures with two heads and blue skin serve you your drinks. You're a bit freaked, but it's too late - the drinks were spiked, and now you belong to Flying Lotus for the night.