Electronic artist Flying Lotus (aka Steven Ellison) will perform at The Urban Lounge on Thursday followed by another concert Friday in Park City as part of the Sundance ASCAP Music Cafe. Meanwhile, he’s putting the finishing touches on his latest album, which he hopes to be done by the end of February.
Without committing to a firm release date, Ellison said the follow-up to 2010’s Cosmogramma would be out before the end of summer, and he will provide his fans with material to tide them over in the meantime.
“I’m going to do some stuff before then like EPs,” Ellison said. “I’ll probably do some mixes and give some music away as well.”
Skimping on the details, Ellison said his currently untitled 2012 full-length release is a progression from Cosmogramma, but it will also include some repeat guests.
“Erykah Badu is going to be on it,” Ellison said. “I think Thom Yorke might come back. There are a couple other guests, but I don’t want to spoil it.”
A Los Angeles area native, Ellison gained a cult-like following in the electronic music scene with the release of his debut album, 1983.
The title track has a swaying hip-hop beat laced with sounds pulled from classic ’80s arcade machines. The beat is so contagious, not even the most rhythmically challenged person can keep from nodding their head.
Early in his career, Ellison was one of the main architects of the L.A. beat scene. In 2008, FlyLo’s second album, Los Angeles, helped further cement the sound that has come to define the Southern California megalopolis.
“I felt like a lot of people were starting to look to L.A. for a certain kind of sound, a certain kind of vibe,” Ellison said. “And I wanted to make something that represented where we were from.”
What Ellison made with Los Angeles was a record stacked with percussive layers, one on top of the other, building an album filled with varied soundscapes as diverse as the eponymous city.
As an artist who’s not content with repeating the same formula of previous works, Ellison started over with a blank canvas for Cosmogramma and mixed his musical palette with string arrangements and hints of jazz.
“Cosmogramma to me is such a special record,” Ellison said. “It was such a pivotal point in my life. My mom had passed away, and I was confronting a lot of things … I was having to really venture deep.”
With Cosmogramma, Ellison created what he said was the most honest piece of work he could make to represent a time when he was exploring his own spirituality and beliefs.
Although listening to Ellison’s music can be an introspective experience, his live performances, which involve a synced visual element, are geared to get the crowd moving.
“It’s definitely headphone music,” Ellison said. “But the way I play, it’s a party. I definitely try to keep it pretty banging.”
After his stint in Utah and finalizing his upcoming album, Ellison will make an appearance at this year’s Coachella Music Festival as part of his busy 2012 schedule.
“I’m going to be around all year,” Ellison said. “That’s the plan. I’m definitely going to be more in your face this year.”
*Originally published in The Daily Utah Chronicle.