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WARPCD195Packshot 480.jpg
Studio album by Flying Lotus
Released May 3, 2010 (2010-05-03)
Recorded 2008-09
Length 45:36
Label Warp
Producer Flying Lotus
Flying Lotus chronology
L.A. EP 3 X 3
Pattern+Grid World

Cosmogramma is the third studio album by American music producer Flying Lotus (born Steven Ellison), released on May 3, 2010, by Warp Records.[5] The title comes from an incident when he was listening to an Ashram lecture from his great-aunt Alice Coltrane and he misheard the words "cosmic drama" as cosmogramma. The album entered and peaked at number 60 on the UK Albums Chart.[6]


On October 31, 2008, Ellison's mother died suddenly of complications from diabetes. This was only a year and some months after his great-aunt Alice Coltrane passed. "I decided that if I was going to speak after that experience," said Ellison, "it better be something honest, and deeper than a record that was just made for the times. I wanted to do something that made her proud. Something that could last forever, hopefully."

The title "Cosmogramma" is an obstruction of Cosmic Drama. As Flying Lotus put it, "My aunt had an ashram in Agoura full of devotees... And I was listening to one of her recorded discourses talking about how once this earthly experience is over, we won't be wearing our costumes anymore, playing parts in this 'cosmic drama,' she called it. "But I thought she said 'cosmogramma.' That word haunted me for a long time until I found out it actually exists. It refers to the study of the universe, and heaven and hell as well."

The album came at a time where Ellison's personal life had gone through significant changes, both his mother and aunt had passed, and up to this period he had gained critical acclaim for his past work on "Los Angeles". Los Angeles had made a huge impact on the Los Angeles Beat Scene, and Ellison's music was appearing on features for Adult Swim. From this point of anticipation, and the timing of his mother's passing, the timing was ideal for his creative growth. Cosmogramma marked a shift in Ellison's writing from laptop-based work using programs such as Ableton Live to a live band, which he named INFINITY -or- .[7]


As opposed to previous releases, which were primarily based on electronic and digital mediums, Cosmogramma marked a change for Flying Lotus. The album consisted of live performances, including elements such as harp, bass, strings, live drums, and saxophone. The album incorporated the talent of Bassist Thundercat (who has worked with Suicidal Tendencies and Snoop Dogg), Rebekah Raff (Ghostface Killah, Partch Ensemble, and daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra), Ravi Coltrane, Low Leaf, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (OutKast, and John Cale), Niki Randa, and guest vocals from Thom Yorke of Radiohead. He calls this a move towards a more "Organix" sound as opposed to quantizing his beats, allowing himself to work outside of the "grid".[8]

The sessions began in October 2008, immediately following his Sophomore album Los Angeles. Following a session for the track Computer Face, He had found the energy and theme for Cosmogramma. "...I did that "Computer Face" song. There was a different energy in the studio and there was a whole burst of tracks around it. I felt different creating it. This energy shaped everything else."

While his mother was in the hospital, Steven brought in a mobile recording rig and set microphones around her room to gather audio samples: the hypnotic wheeze of a respirator, the ambient pings of vital-sign monitors. The samples would be used in the closing track Galaxy in Janaki. The track acted as a tribute to his mother who passed shortly before the album's release. On the process of recording his mother's respirator, "I know it was a weird thing to do," Ellison said. "I'm not the type to go out recording things like that. But I didn't want to forget that space." When asked where the title came from "...That's the term my aunt gave my mother. It means mother as well."

For the track And the World Laughs with You, Steven was put in contact with Thom Yorke by Mary Anne Hobbs, they started conversing the same day. After a series of trading emails, Steven received the vocals in his email and began mixing. The track was titled before Thom had written lyrics. He had decided to keep the original title, which Ellison appreciated, stating "He also kept the same name I had for it, which really meant a lot to me. All of the song titles mean something, and that one does for sure... I was making the tune with the frustration of no one being able to understand what the hell was going on. As long as things were cool, you had the whole world behind you. Fucking weird shit happens, you find yourself counting friends on your fingers."

Do the Astral Plane features Scatting & vocals from Ellison.[9]

The mastering process was extensive, Daddy Kev, of Low End Theory & Alpha Pup Records, Handled mastering which was overlooked by Ellison. As Daddy Kev put it "..a mastering job that normally takes a few hours wound up lasting four months. Even after we sent the masters off, I'd wake up to my phone ringing and think, 'Please don't let it be Steve wanting to change something.' "[10]


Leading up to and following the release of Cosmogramma, Flying Lotus toured through Europe and the United States, with a live band called INFINITY. INFINITY is a traveling team of players from Cosmogramma including Ravi Coltrane, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Thundercat, Rebekah Raff and many more. The album release party was held over two nights at The Echoplex In Los Angeles California. The show also had opening performances from Ravi Coltrane, Low End resident DJ The Gaslamp Killer, Gonjasufi, and sound artist Matthewdavid.[11]

Infinity band members[edit]

  • Thundercat – bass guitar
  • Rebekah Raff – harp
  • Miguel Atwood-Ferguson – strings

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
AnyDecentMusic? 8.3/10[12]
Metacritic 86/100[13]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[14]
The A.V. Club A[15]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[16]
The Irish Times 4/5 stars[17]
MSN Music A−[18]
NME 8/10[19]
Pitchfork Media 8.8/10[2]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[20]
Spin 8/10[21]
The Times 5/5 stars[22]

Cosmogramma received widespread critical acclaim, receiving a score of 86 out of 100 on review aggregate site Metacritic and appearing on a multitude of year-end best-of lists.[13][23] Chris Martins of The A.V. Club praised the album as "one of the most musical and inventive to fly the electronica banner in years" and a "hybridized work that challenges others to follow its dazzling blueprint."[15] William Rauscher of Resident Advisor noted that the album's "sheer amount of diversity", including elements of dubstep, free jazz, hip hop, IDM and digital glitch, makes it a "much more challenging affair" than its predecessor, Los Angeles.[24] Simon Reynolds cited the album as an example of a "hyper-eclectic approach" which he describes as "rich and potent on some levels, but ultimately fatiguing and bewildering for most listeners". Reynolds also described the album as "hip-hop jazz for the ADD generation".[25] Robert Christgau, writing for MSN Music, wrote that "part of its delight is how naturally the disparate parts fit together, but another part is how they add up to phantasmagoria if you let your attention wander (and don't be a tight-ass—you should)."[18]

Cosmogramma was awarded the top spot in Exclaim! magazine's annual ranking of electronic albums, with Exclaim!'s Dimitri Nasrallah writing of Flying Lotus: "In the five years since he first appeared on the scene, the Los Angeles native's talents have grown in such leaps and bounds that he now finds himself pioneering a full-blown West-Coast beats renaissance."[26] It was later ranked the fourteenth best album of 2010 by Pitchfork Media[27] and named the best album of the year at British radio DJ Gilles Peterson's 2011 Worldwide Winners awards ceremony.[28]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Flying Lotus, except where noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Clock Catcher"   1:12
2. "Pickled!"   2:14
3. "Nose Art"   1:58
4. "Intro//A Cosmic Drama"   1:11
5. "Zodiac Shit"   2:48
6. "Computer Face//Pure Being"   2:33
7. "...And the World Laughs with You" (featuring Thom Yorke) Flying Lotus, Thom Yorke 2:55
8. "Arkestry"   2:51
9. "MmmHmm" (featuring Thundercat) Flying Lotus, Stephen Bruner 4:15
10. "Do the Astral Plane"   3:58
11. "Satelllliiiiiiiteee"   3:49
12. "German Haircut"   1:57
13. "Recoiled"   3:37
14. "Dance of the Pseudo Nymph"   2:47
15. "Drips//Auntie's Harp"   2:10
16. "Table Tennis" (featuring Laura Darlington) Flying Lotus, Laura Darlington 3:02
17. "Galaxy in Janaki"   2:28


  • Brian Martinez – guitar (track 16)
  • Dorian Concept (Oliver Thomas Johnson) – keyboard (track 11)
  • Laura Darlington – vocals (track 16)
  • Low Leaf – keyboard (track 14)
  • Miguel Atwood-Ferguson – strings and string arrangements (tracks 4, 5, 10, 15, 17)
  • Niki Randa – vocals (track 4)
  • Ravi Coltrane – tenor saxophone (tracks 8, 12)
  • Rebekah Raff – harp (tracks 1, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 15, 17)
  • Richard Eigner – drums (track 12)
  • Thom Yorke – vocals (track 7)
  • Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) – bass (tracks 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 14, 17), vocals (tracks 9, 14)
  • Todd Simon – trumpet (track 10)

Technical personnel[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lymangrover, Jason. "Cosmogramma - Flying Lotus". AllMusic. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Colly, Joe (May 6, 2010). "Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 28, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Pattison, Louis. "Flying Lotus sets the controls for psychedelic hip-hop". Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ Dean, Jonathan. "Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma". Tiny Mixtapes. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Warp / Records / Releases / Flying Lotus / Cosmogramma". Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  6. ^ Chris Martins (2010-05-13). "Flying Lotus Rising - Page 1 - Music - Los Angeles". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  7. ^ Crowell, John. "Flying Lotus: Interview". Tiny Mixtapes. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ Martins, Chris. "Flying Lotus Rising". LA WEEKLY. LA WEEKLY. Retrieved May 13, 2010. 
  9. ^ Sisson, Patrick. "INTERVIEWS Flying Lotus". Pitchfork. Pitchfork. Retrieved June 14, 2010. 
  10. ^ Brown, August. "Flying Lotus could get out from the underground with 'Cosmogramma'". LA Times. Retrieved May 4, 2010.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  11. ^ "FLYING LOTUS: 3 very different London dates // 'Inside The Codex: The Art Of Cosmogramma' Video". noizenews. WWW.NOIZEMAKESENEMIES.CO.UK. Retrieved June 17, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Reviews for Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus". Metacritic. Retrieved November 28, 2015. 
  14. ^ Lymangrover, Jason. "Cosmogramma – Flying Lotus". AllMusic. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Martins, Chris (May 4, 2010). "Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 28, 2015. 
  16. ^ MacInnes, Paul (April 29, 2010). "Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  17. ^ Carroll, Jim (April 30, 2010). "Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma". The Irish Times. Dublin. Retrieved September 30, 2016. (subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (January 21, 2011). "Flying Lotus/Eskmo". MSN Music. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  19. ^ Parkin, Chris (April 30, 2010). "Album Review: Flying Lotus – 'Cosmogramma' (Warp)". NME. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  20. ^ Dolan, Jon (May 4, 2010). "Cosmogramma". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  21. ^ Reeves, Mosi (May 4, 2010). "Flying Lotus, 'Cosmogramma' (Warp)". Spin. Archived from the original on August 29, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2015. 
  22. ^ Clay, Joe (May 1, 2010). "Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma". The Times. London. Retrieved September 30, 2016. (subscription required (help)). 
  23. ^ "Acclaimed Music - Cosmogramma". Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  24. ^ Rauscher, William (May 7, 2010). "Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma". Resident Advisor. Retrieved November 28, 2015. 
  25. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2011). Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 75. ISBN 978-0865479944. 
  26. ^ "Electronic: Year in Review 2010". Exclaim!. November 28, 2010. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  27. ^ "The Top 50 Albums of 2010". Pitchfork Media. December 16, 2010. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Flying Lotus and Thom Yorke talk to Gilles Peterson – Worldwide Awards 2011". BBC Music. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 

External links[edit]