Just a fortnight ago, Steven Ellison revealed himself as the man behind the previously anonymous rapper-come-multimedia artist Captain Murphy. Although it exposed a new layer to Ellison’s creative shell, the sensationalist persona did little to overshadow Until The Quiet Comes, Flying Lotus’ fourth album – his most understated work yet. Ellison’s work has always had a cinematic quality to it (this record was accompanied by an abstract short film), and although these 18 tracks often feel like sketches, the album nonetheless requires start-to-finish listens.
It’s said that when we dream, our mind pieces together recent events into order. Ellison conceived the album via astral projection and at every turn, Until The Quiet Comes carefully sustains its late-night bedroom atmosphere, acting as a window to his own subconscious – he’s stringing everything together, trying to make sensory connections, and making it a shared experience. Opener All In feels like a deconstructed jazz ensemble reinterpreted to the sound of nocturnal chimes, while Until The Colours Come’s hypnotic soundscape perfectly balances the electronic with the organic, making it the perfect accompaniment to the sound of the ceiling fan.
Such a conceptual approach is the perfect foil for Flying Lotus’ sound: a woven thread of early trip-hop, minimalist bass, and free jazz influences. This loose collection of styles avoids coming off as self-indulgent pastiche purely because Ellison is a master of arrangement. In less than six minutes, he effortlessly floats between the post-dubstep of Sultan’s Request, the Nintendo-glitch of Putty Boy Strut, and See Thru To U’s afro-funk rhythms with ease. Each element is played off of one another and executed seamlessly.
This is also an album of collaborations. Whether in the abstract delivery of Erykah Badu, the velvet-smooth tones of Nikki Randa or the ghostly echoes of Brainfeeder signee Thundercat, the album’s guest spots are always fully considered, treated like an instrument in their own right, acting as guides through his midnight tapestries. However, the album’s defining moment comes in the form of Me Yesterday // Corded’s thrilling climax. Starting off as an introspective piece – note Ellison’s first recorded vocal performance to date – it bursts into a vibrant unravelling of arpeggiating electronics and an unrelenting bass groove. If this is truly a dream-album, then this is Ellison’s mental sprint back to consciousness. Not that you’d ever want to leave; insular yet emotive, Until The Quiet Comes is a triumph of restraint, and nothing short of elegant.