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Frothing: Flying Lotus

– by Timothy Wilson

Each week, Tim selects for us an artist to check out. Read on to find out why Flying Lotus is this week’s pick. 

Steven Ellison, who plays under the moniker Flying Lotus (or FlyLo) is an experimental multi genre musician delving into combinations of jazz, electronic and rap/hip-hop. His success is reflected in his rich family musical lineage. He is the grandson of Marylin Mcloed whoA wrote Freda Payne’s ‘I Get High’, commonly sampled amongst hip-hop artists today (which is pretty dope). He is also the grand nephew of jazz musician and second wife of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, likely where the hereditary jazz influences flourish.

If you haven’t been blessed with the opportunity to attend a FlyLo performance, you won’t have experienced the Layer 3 audiovisual project that the Red Bull Music Academy got behind. Layer 3 encompasses three layers of overwhelming visual display, two projectors, and FlyLo himself sandwiched between them. Describing the experience is difficult but this is the best as I can do. FlyLo hit me in waves. Without consent, I siphoned constant perfect sine waves from him and the projections. The crest of the wave came in spacey, intricate flickers with the likes of ‘Intro/ A Cosmic Drama’. The music pierced my head and dispersed through a network of nodes, being programmed and downloaded in various areas of my brain before descending into the trough of the wave. This lower frequency development of the set such as ‘Do The Astral Plane,’ produced a pulse of energy that encouraged feet to shuffle and limbs to flail. From my experience, being able to transcend from thought provoking, acute attention into an explosion of relentless dancing is a rare thing for a producer to exert. Another part of his versatile set that really got me all hyped up was his rapping ability. I distinctly remember one verse, which mentioned Harvey Two-Face as FlyLo stood in front of one of the lights, half in, half out revealing only half of his face. Far from coincidence, I was blown away at the attention to detail.

After reading an interview from Pitchfork it’s no surprise that states of stationary wonder overcame me at the gig. “What else is out there? What could happen next? What would the moment of death sound like?”  (Flying Lotus).

Existential questions like these separate the good from the great and it’s clear that FlyLo doesn’t underestimate his listeners when it comes to communicating these feelings.

Frothing FlyLo at the moment due to his latest album, You’re Dead!, that was released on his own label, Brainfeeder, as well as the recent video for one of the singles off the album, ‘Coronus, The Terminator,’  that has just come out, (watch here). The Needledrop or Anthony Fantano gives the album a solid (8/9)/10 for its excellent drumming and abundance of unique sounds and vocal samples (I couldn’t agree more). The album is more than the sum of its parts and really takes you on a journey, which is awesome. Don’t miss FlyLo at Laneway this year, it’s gonna be off chops.

Book tickets for Laneway here, and checkout Flying Lotus’ website for regular updates

Photo Credit: Flying Lotus Facebook Page

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