- Even in LA's vibrant beat scene, Steve Ellison, AKA Flying Lotus, always shone brighter than his contemporaries. The success of his debut album, 1983, saw him quickly snapped up by Warp Records. Since his second album, Los Angeles, he's cemented his reputation by weaving elements of jazz and rich psychedelic textures into his music.
As with most of what we've heard from Flying Lotus post-Cosmogramma, You're Dead fully embraces jazz from the outset. The first track, "Theme," opens with an otherworldly wall of sound before tight drums roll through the fog and all hell breaks loose. The next three tracks are a haze of piano, schizophrenic bass guitar, relentless hi-hats and one distorted guitar riff. It all feels like it could fall apart at the seams but never does.
These almost formless moments are common throughout the record. Everything is peppered with Thundercat's distinctive bass. Many of the tracks, notably the Herbie Hancock-featuring"Moment Of Hesitation," are pure, dizzying freak-outs. It's certainly enough to alienate some, but through the chaos, moments of clarity rise to surface.
"Never Catch Me," a collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, combines this madness with FlyLo's classic stoned hip-hop. Lamar's inclusion on the album is something of a departure—Ellison has worked with huge names before, notably Erykah Badu and Thom Yorke, but such a popular rapper provides a more radio-friendly feel then anything he's done so far. And that's to say nothing of Snoop Dogg, whose guest appearance dwarfs even Lamar's, despite being the album's weakest point, due to a lack-luster performance from Snoop and a slightly awkward bassline. "Coronus, The Terminator" and "Siren Song" are both classic FlyLo beats layered with woodwind and noodling guitars, with seraphic vocals courtesy of Niki Randa and Angel Deradoorian. "The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep," is one of the best tracks Ellison has done as Captain Murphy (his rap alter-ego).
I first received You're Dead as a single track, which feels fitting in a way. The whole album bleeds into one magnificent mess, thanks in part to some incredibly short track times, but also to the nature of the music itself. The lines between jazz and Ellison's more traditional beats are blurred almost beyond distinction, encouraging you to hear it as a whole and revel in its dizzying ambiance.
03. Cold Dead
04. Fkn Dead
05. Never Catch Me feat. Kendrick Lamar
06. Dead Man's Tetris feat. Captain Murphy & Snoop Dogg
07. Turkey Dog Coma
09. Coronus, The Terminator
10. Siren Song feat. Angel Deodorian
12. Ready Err Not
13. Eyes Above
14. Moment Of Hesitation
15. Descent Into Madness feat. Thundercat
16. The Boys Who Died In Their Sleep feat. Captain Murphy
17. Obligatory Cadence
18. Your Potential/The Beyond feat. Niki Randa
19. The Protest