Flying Lotus is trying to f*ck with Miles Davis. LA’s upstart-understudy, a great nephew of jazz legends Alice and John Coltrane, is slowly letting this freeform bloodline conduct the pulse of his own productions. And he’s taking his swirl of ideas to the other side of the grave.
‘You’re Dead!’ is a wilful celebration of death. This, his fifth album, is also an overt ode to limbo, the halfway house of consciousness and true death. And this is where all 19 tracks dwell, in between the failing light of traditional jazz and the bursts of neon emitted from his polyrhythmic, nocturnal electronica.
While 2010’s ‘Cosmogramma’ tackled the ascension of his mother’s spirit into the afterlife, ‘You’re Dead!’ manhandles this theme through a Marvel storyboard. The resulting artworks are gory. The music is equally splattered after different genres and tones collide under FlyLo’s manic scalpel before being rebuilt in the image of his family’s robust canon.
The album dips through various intense collaborations. Herbie Hancock, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar (on ‘Never Catch Me’, video below), Angel Deradoorian, Niki Randa and his trusty sidekick Thundercat all hurl petrol onto FlyLo’s sprawling fires of creativity. Rhythms snake, bass noodles and brass flashes sizzle around us like half-formed thoughts.
Fans searching for club bangers should U-turn now. Once again LA’s most talented beat producer is using his vivid heritage to explore the album format. He said that alongside Hancock he wanted to make “a jazz record that would f*ck him (Miles Davis) up”. No one will ever know if he’s achieved that, but FlyLo certainly has brewed some seriously bitching beats with ‘You’re Dead!’.
Words: Matthew Bennett
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Keep them peeled for more on Flying Lotus and ‘You’re Dead!’ on this site and in print, soon.