November 17, 2014


Flying Lotus and the fresh sound dynamic

By Alex Cox

There’s a lot of talk about Flying Lotus at the moment, but does the end result justify the hype? Over here at EARPEACE we think it does.

Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus is a musician and producer. He has released five different studio albums over the past 10 years—1983, Los AngelesCosmogramma, Until The Quiet Comes and You’re Dead. He has collaborated with countless different musicians ranging from rappers as Kendrick Lamar and Mac Miller to legends such as Herbie HancockErykah Badu and Thom Yorke. Besides his studio albums, Flying Lotus has been part of many creative projects. He once did a live scoring of the film “Heaven and Earth Magic’ as well as the theme music for a show on Cartoon Network. His background in music is quite interesting too; as the grandnephew of well known jazz musicians John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane he has developed a great appreciation for jazz, using it as inspiration in many of his pieces. Growing up in LA, he was exposed to a lot of hip-hop and rap, which is reflected in his career- Steven doesn’t just produce but also raps under the alias ‘Captain Murphy.’

In the past couple of months, every single music magazine and web site were talking about Flying Lotus’s new album ‘You’re Dead!’ Even the LA Times had an article on him; “Initially, the goal was to craft what he described as a “hard-bop” jazz sound, to channel the tight focus of fusion, specifically the wild, tightened jams between the improvised solos. But he concluded that the realm he sought to explore need not merely be replicated. He could further its evolution. ‘There’s so much more to do with it that no one’s doing,’ he says. So as he added dynamics, he bent toward a fresh sound.”

You can listen to ‘Ready Err Not’ from his new album below:


“You’re Dead!” is quite original, encompassing a wide range of genres so that everyone can find a bit of what they like in the album, whether its experimental electronic, D&B, jazz or hip-hop. Steven has blended a lot of these different genres together, giving birth to a type of music that is particularly innovative. It’s the sort of music that relates to listeners who want something fresh in an era where more risk is taken in marketing new material than actually making it. When we look back to 2014, I believe we’ll see FlyLo as a visionary, who at the time did not appeal to everyone but certainly gave way to the synthesis of new movements. You can’t classify this album under one genre, neither in three or four; you need a new word to define it. That is why both FlyLo and this album is special, worth talking about and worth listening to.

He is also a visionary in regards to his live performances; his audio visual show at the Roundhouse this past Friday was extraordinary. As the concert was a part of his tour for “You’re Dead!”, the AV show included a lot of dark and scary imagery relating to death. At one point a grim reaper actually came on stage! FlyLo’s entrance was incredible to watch; he was wearing glow in the dark glasses that made him look like a lotus from behind the set up. He was playing inside a cube screen which reflected the AV show to the audience. Even though we watched him from behind a screen, he managed to keep the concert intimate with his conversations and rap performances. At the end of the show as he thanked the audience for support, he also mentioned that both the AV show and his performance was improvised, that they were all ‘just jamming’. This was unbelievable to hear as the music blended so well with the audiovisuals.

Below is a video from his tour a couple years ago for the album “Until The Quiet Comes”. Steven discusses his AV show with the creative minds behind it:



Kode9 and Thundercat also performed at the Roundhouse, just before Flying Lotus. Both put on amazing performances and were a good build up for the main act. Thundercat a.k.a Stephen Bruner has a similar family background as Steven Ellison because he is the son of the famous jazz drummer Ronald Bruner. He is an extremely talented bass player but he also sings. His music is as creative and innovative as FlyLo’s; it is quite experimental and fuses together influences from jazz, funk and even progressive rock. Thundercat’s music is characterised by long improvisation sections that are especially enjoyable to watch live and in which the drums and his bass guitar plays a big role.

FlyLo is now continuing his tour in the US and Australia but he’ll be back on the 17th of April next year at Brixton Academy. Don’t miss out and make sure you bring your hearing protection (we recommend EARPEACE Music Pro--our concert earplugs) to prevent tinnitus.

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