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Instrumental hip-hop is a bit like the works of great cinema composers. At their best, they both offer an immersive experience capable of transporting a listener to some far off place. Just take a look at the work of J Dilla or early DJ Shadow and the scores of Lalo Schifrin and Ennio Morricone for further evidence. But at their worst, they merely follow in the footsteps of past innovators, offering little in the way of creative atmosphere and falling right into the trap of muted indifference.
Luckily for Warp, it looks like they picked a winner with the recent signing of Californian producer *Flying Lotus *this past year. A grand nephew of jazz great Alice Coltrane, his debut EP for the legendary Sheffield label,_ Reset_, is a sharp showcase for his dark, progressive, beat-driven scores.
Applying a careful restraint to his beats until everything comes bursting through to the surface, Flying Lotus embellishes everything on_ Reset_ with hard edged synths and well timed vocal snippets for an effect that’s as cerebral as it is head-nodding. Coming across like the background music of a seedy piano bar in Blade Runner’s cyberpunk dystopia, opener_ ‘Tea Leaf Dancers’ literally throbs, with fuzzed-out beats laying a firm foundation for pulsating electronics and hazy soul vocals. _‘Vegas Collie’ _adds a retro touch to the proceedings with 8-bit synth squelches, before ‘Spicy Sammich’ _kicks it up a notch with a slow, steady groove developing into pounding breaks that just keep building and building without ever quite reaching tipping point. Though it’s the stripped back electro-future-funk brilliance of closer _‘Dance Floor Stalker’ _that sees Flying Lotus stepping out of his comfort zone to point us in the musical direction he’s planning on travelling to next.
_ Reset _is merely a signpost of what to possibly expect from the man in the coming months. If he can expand on what he’s accomplished here with the same level of technical skill and vision, then Flying Lotus just might be onto something that forces us all to stand up and take notice in the very near future.
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