There’s been a good buzz around producer Flying Lotus recently — which makes it all the more unfortunate that his second album comes tagged as “wonky,” a genre descriptor so ridiculous it makes the likes of “trip-hop,” “nu folk” and “broken beat” sound positively inspired in comparison.
Get beyond that and there’s actually plenty to enjoy about “Los Angeles,” a record that marks its creator out as the pre-eminent explorer of the murky terrain between electronica and hip-hop.
Flying Lotus is frequently compared with Californian beat-maker Madlib and late Detroit producer J Dilla, and he shares their penchant for somnambulant grooves and rhythms that occasionally trip over their own feet. His points of reference, however, are a bit more recent: The nods to soul and spiritual jazz are complemented by gauzy 1980s synthesizers and hints of Miami Bass.
“Los Angeles” is a dense work that takes a few listens to unpack. Songs bleed into one another and come buried in layers of ambient effects, like the titular city seen through a veil of smog and heat haze. The effortlessly cool “Camel” and “Golden Diva” would be as comfortable soundtracking a pool party as a late-night smoking session, while even the more uptempo numbers such as “GNG BNG” and “Parisian Goldfish” never quite shake off their narcotic fug.