At long last, the third in Steven Ellison’s series of remix EPs taken from his pioneering Los Angeles long player has surfaced. Each one has been quite unique – rather than merely gathering together whatever mixes he could and slamming them onto a 12”, Ellison seems to have had a specific vision for each individual release. This has ensured that each EP has been a surprisingly coherent listen, and this third is no exception. In fact, it holds together best, the seven tracks on here forming more of a mini-album of reinterpretations than direct floor-ready remixes.
A little like Isis’ series of Oceanic reinterpretations, which saw collaborators as diverse as Fennesz, Hecker, DJ Speedranch and Justin Broadrick deconstructing their original work, each remix on LA. EP 3x3 takes only the barest of source material and entirely rebuilds from the ground up. The results often bear little resemblance to their forebears, sharing only the permeating atmosphere of disquiet that marks Ellison’s work as Flying Lotus. As if the version on Los Angeles wasn’t spooky enough, Dimlite’s take on ‘Infinitum’ has a staggering gait that ramps up the sense of urban sleaze to breaking point. Appropriately, it pivots about an awkward locked groove that seems to stretch forever as the original’s eerie vocal mantra dissects itself with an array of sampled operating tools. Take’s orientalist remix of ‘Parisian Goldfish’ is almost entirely unrecognizable bar the sudden emergence of the original’s strafing synth refrain, and Rebekah Raff’s ‘Auntie’s Harp’ is a gorgeous starry eyed exploration of Ellison’s tribute to Alice Coltrane. Best by far though is Breakage’s metallic dissolution of album highlight ‘Testament’, trading in his usual dark dubstep stylings for truly ominous choral drone.
Yet for all the consistent quality of his collaborators’ work, it’s FlyLo’s own new material here that proves most intriguing. Taking a radical departure from the usual post-Dilla territory, ‘Endless White’ and ‘Spin Cycles’ detour toward formless, beatless ambience that in a lesser producer’s hands could have also felt pointless. Instead, the barely audible birdsong and tiny snippets of harp that weave their way through thickets of static elicit the same atmosphere as his most upbeat work, yet through an entirely different methodology. Ellison’s new album can’t come quickly enough – it’s due out on Warp at some point early next year. It will be exciting to see how much farther he can stretch the template before it snaps entirely.