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This recommendation is written by Casey A. Malik.

Table Tennis by Flying Lotus is an uncommonly gimmicky song for the producer, especially as the penultimate song in the album it comes from. Flying Lotus typically starts his albums with a bit of a party, but grows somber and solemn in the end. The song immediately before this one, in fact, was a memorial to his great-aunt, Alice Coltrane, a greater artist than him and a great influence. So, it seems a bit of an odd choice to write a song primarily using table tennis samples, using lyrics also about table tennis but slightly hornier, and place it here, breaking up what was previously a cohesive song cycle.

The very first sound you hear in this song, an instant before ball hits table, is his mother’s life support machine.

The song is sparser and slower than you’d expect from a simple description, with the life support machine remaining a constant rhythmic element throughout. Nevertheless, it remains about ping pong, with cheeky lyrics about transferring energy, kinetic and potential, that bring to mind a relationship. About halfway through, there’s a brief instrumental break, during which the life support machine is briefly vocoded with a voice saying “you miss.” Or is it “miss you?”

Towards the end, the rhythmic section, the ping pong and the hospital, drops away. The game is over. All that’s left is an acoustic guitar and the vocals, now stuttering and glitchy, saying “T-t-transfer into” There is a desperation to it.