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Flying Lotus - Flamagra Music Album Reviews

On Steven Ellison’s sixth album, his sweeping jazz-funk feels limitless. It sounds more like a sketchbook with FlyLo crafting each minute with great care and technical dexterity.
You’re Dead! was such a momentous piece of work, and such an inflection point in Flying Lotus’ career, that his earlier albums can now sound conventional by comparison. They were original and daring, but remained planted in soil tilled by pioneers like Dilla and Madlib. You’re Dead! offered a different vision: ecstatic, shapeshifting, deeply collaborative, and with a remarkable ability to mask its making. Where most beat music foregrounds surfaces and processes—the fingerprints on the pads of the MPC, the dust in the grooves of the wax—the 2014 album flowed like magical liquid with no discernable source. Where beat music is grounded, You’re Dead! was pure vapor, a lungful of atoms returned swirling into the universe.

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UniformThe Body - Mental Wounds Not Healing Music Album Reviews

UniformThe Body - Mental Wounds Not Healing Music Album Reviews
Extreme-metal titans and prolific collaborators the Body team with New York-based industrial duo Uniform on a brutally satisfying—and surprisingly melodic—joint album.

On Mental Wounds Not Healing, two compatible bands bring out the best in each other. The joint LP from Portland extreme-metal titans the Body and New York-based industrial duo Uniform finds both outfits pushing the most intense elements of their respective sounds into the red while scaling new melodic and compositional heights. Recorded around the same time the Body were finishing last month’s I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer, these seven songs are so brutally satisfying, they might leave some listeners wishing the collaboration were permanent—an impressive feat when you consider the strength of each act’s individual catalog.

Composed of ex-Drunkdriver vocalist Michael Berdan and guitarist/programmer Ben Greenberg, formerly of the Men, Uniform have spent the last few years cutting a serious figure in the harshest corners of Brooklyn’s music scene. In 2017, they released the excellent Wake in Fright, and two tracks from that album ended up on “Twin Peaks: the Return.” Since their 2010 breakthrough, All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, the Body’s Chip King and Lee Buford have remained both consistently thrilling and impossibly prolific. They’ve also put out numerous collaborative works during that time, with acts such as New Jersey black metal fiends Krieg, Louisiana sludge merchants Thou, and the intense grindcore enthusiasts in Full of Hell.

It’s been well established that the Body play well with others, but Mental Wounds Not Healing—which takes its title from a lyric in Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”—is nothing short of artistic kismet. Versatility has always been key to King and Buford’s approach. Aside from King’s awesome howl, the Body have never really stuck to one sound: Waters of the Earth featured deceptively angelic vocalizing from the Assembly of Light choir, and although a familiar intensity binds their subsequent albums together, they’ve also proven themselves to be anything but purists by taking cues from modern pop and deconstructing their own catalog. On Mental Wounds, the boundary between their malleable style and the signature sounds Uniform bring to the table—blasted electronic beats and Berdan’s cruel sneer—is perfectly blurred, as the two acts lean into every complementary facet of their aesthetics.

Fans of both bands might be surprised at how melodic Mental Wounds can be. “In My Skin” begins as a torrid dirge before opening up to reveal fuzzy synths and lovely strumming; King’s endless scream is the cherry on top of its sludgy sundae. Closing track “Empty Comforts” carries all the anthemic sweep of a classic cut from Nine Inch Nails (who the Body have covered), its back end charging forward with a soaring guitar line of modern-rock radio proportions. Wrapped in layers of harsh static and noise, these relatively conventional elements never sound an inch out of place.

A worthy addition to both the Body’s and Uniform’s catalogs, Mental Wounds is also a useful introduction for listeners who are new to either group. With only a few years and two full-lengths under their belt, Uniform are still a band on the rise, and this inspired joint effort will undoubtedly raise their profile in extreme-music circles. For the Body, an acclaimed duo with an imposing corpus of work, the album provides an ideal entryway into their harrowing, protean, and consistently ingenious approach to metal. Mental Wounds Not Healing is a brutal, beautiful experiment—and a seamless collaboration that sounds more like the birth of a great new band.

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