Aspire Magazine Issue 1 - Page 56

/ /////// S C EN E + HEA R D /////////////////////////////////////////////// YOU’RE DEAD! HAS BEEN HAILED A MODERN MASTERPIECE, A PROMINENT EXAMPLE OF THE FUTURE OF JAZZ-FUSION. Ellison stages elaborate performance art. OPPOSITE: Fly Lo is slated to collaborate with Parliament Funkadelic. Electronic musician Flying Lotus redefines the West Coast’s beat scene while also charting new territory in the art film world. BY ODIE DESMITH 54 ISSUE ONE | ASPIRE Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, is one of the more enigmatic figures in today’s music industry. Blurring the lines between hip hop and experimental electronic, he’s pioneered many of the sounds that have come to characterize the West Coast beat scene. This page: Flanigan, opposite: Olsen FLYING HIGH /////////////////////////////////////////////////////// < AMPED While studying film at the Los Angeles Film School, Ellison was inspired to create music that told a story. His first big break was the Adult Swim program on Cartoon Network, a gig he landed after seeing an ad for the program and submitting his original material. It was then that Flying Lotus, a persona that came to Ellison while dreaming, was born. His hypnotic, cinematic sounds blended with the show’s oftenpsychedelic animation and became a staple on Adult Swim, which, in turn, exposed his music to a broader audience. An artist tough to pigeonhole, his music is a magnetic blend of African grooves, breakbeats, space lasers, and Commodore 64. In a sea of 808 kick drums and out-front production techniques, Flying Lotus’s mercurial sounds have earned him a devoted audience and critical acclaim. His debut record 1983 (released in 2006) was a departure from the more mainstream music of his peers. In stark contrast to the aggressive, hard-hitting directions taken by early krunk and trap music, 1983 was highly experimental and blended elements of old-school hip-hop with highly refined synthesis and sampling. Though the influences of early hip-hop experimenters like MF Doom and J Dilla were apparent, 1983 had a futuristic patina. Sampling and looping sections of songs is a staple of hip-hop production, yet Flying Lotus finds a way to give each bar its own unique variation. Much of his music is instrumental, though it manages to hint at narratives through a mastery of sound design and creative song titles. While his music is heavily electronic and digitally driven, Flying Lotus is no stranger to collaborating with instrumentalists. His most recent release You’re Dead! features jazz legend Herbie Hancock, as well as such other notable artists as friend Stephen Bruner (aka Thundercat) and Kamasi Washington, whose 2015 album The Epic was released on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label and reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top-100 jazz chart. You’re Dead also features a verse from Kendrick Lamar, whose 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly featured studio production by Flying Lotus and was nominated for 11 Grammys.  You’re Dead! has been hailed a modern masterpiece, a prominent example of the future of jazz-fusion. The album takes the listener on a spiritual journey through the afterlife, beginning with five, spastic, jazzy tracks that mesh together almost like movements in a symphony, including “Theme,” “Tesla,” and “Cold Dead.” “Fkn Dead, Never Catch Me”—a standout track—is a blend between hip hop and electronic dance music. Lamar’s fast-paced poetic descriptions of after-death experiences mix with signature Flying Lotus grooves and compositional techniques. The album’s sixth track, “Dead Man’s Tetris,” feels like a fusion of G Funk, Nintendo, and Halloween, and features verses from Fly Lo’s rap alter ego, Captain Murphy, as well as West Coast hip-hop pioneer Snoop Dogg. The last track, “The Protest,” serves as a sonic gra ѱ她ѽѡ)ѡمɥ́ͥѥѡ́ѡ)մ)她1́́ɕɐ) ɅȰٔͼ͕Ёѡȁͥ)ѡ͍ɕ!́ɕѽɥ)ЁѡI兰݅́ɕѱ)͡ݍ͕ЁMչ9ЁЁ)1̰́ͥѥ́х)ѼɅذݕ役)]Ѡѡ፥ѕЁɽչ)́܁ᕐݥѠյ́)ͥɅѥݥѠAɱ)չѡɔ́ɥЁ)1́ѥͥ+Q她̹()MA%I%MMU=9((((0