Sunday, 14 June 2009
Flying Lotus & Declaime - Whole Wide World (2009)
Steve Ellison is my favourite electronica or hip-hop producer and his latest release does nothing to make me want to retract that statement. Far from it, Flying Lotus' latest release, a 12" collaboration with hip-hop MC Declaime, sees the producer moving in a direction that I had been hoping he would explore for a while, and the resulting recordings deliver. FlyLo's last full length release Los Angeles and its accompanying EPs occupied sonic territories that sat very comfortably on his new label Warp, fusing the sense of experimentation of the pioneering electronic acts on its roster with his appreciation for hip-hop and jazz. The result was a great but uneven effort, producing some incredibly strong moments but also some weaker forays that didn't measure up next to the likes of "Breathe. Something / Stellar Star" and "Auntie's Lock/Infinitum". Flying Lotus' music has always felt most satisfying when he channels his sound into a more obviously hip-hop context, and it seems that this year he's been dabbling more and more in proper hip-hop production: that is to say, lending his beats to rappers, be it donating a beat to Finale's latest record as a tribute to the late J dilla or getting Blu to rap over the Los Angeles cut 'GNG BNG'. This 12" represents his first real collaboration record with an MC. Essentially, Whole Wide World consists of two cuts which Declaime rhymes over, two instrumental versions of those tracks, and another new instrumental in the form of the excellent 'Keep it Moving'.
The title track is the real hit here. FlyLo drops a hazy beat with vocal and piano samples that evoke some scratchy old jazz record being spun in outer space, Pattie Blingh's vocal contribution providing a nice touch as the song reaches its midpoint. The bassy, guitar-laden boom-clap of 'Lit Up' meanwhile is clearly indebted to J Dilla's livelier efforts. While lyrically Declaime isn't much to write home about, his rhyming is competent and his flow has a nice balance of aggression and laid-back attitude that anchors both the songs here very well. 'Keep it Moving' is classic Flying Lotus, its relaxed, jazz-infused groove hearkening back to his early works on 1983. What this release proves more than anything is that if and when Ellison decides to produce a full-length rap record, it's going to be something very special. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we won't be kept waiting.
Flying Lotus & Declaime - Whole Wide World