New Flying Lotus album “You’re Dead!”

Flying Lotus' You're dead!

Flying Lotus’ You’re dead!

If secretly, in a hidden corner of your psyche kept secretly secreted just for you, you quietly suspect that that man that young master Zimmerman riles against with such savage enthusiasm on the first of those three extraordinary albums from 1966 is staring back at you from that mirror. And that somehow, inexplicably, you’ve morphed into Jones, Mister, then this is the album to display so loudly and with such pride at the head of your playlist.

In his guise as Flying Lotus Steven Ellison is the man responsible for keeping U2 and Radiohead awake at night as they toss and turn in their tortured desire to stay relevant. Thom Yorke was actually a guest vocalist on Flylo’s – as he’s inevitably been dubbed – last couple of albums, the breakthrough Cosmogramma from 2010 and Until the Quiet Comes in 2012, reviewed earlier here.

Flylo gets grilled by Thom Yorke.

Flylo gets grilled by Thom Yorke.

You’re Dead! is his fifth album, and it’s effortlessly, dazzlingly relevant, and almost casually if triumphantly current. Nominally a concept album, it’s as much an exploration of the texture and feel of sounds as it is of the idea and reality of death.

That exclamation mark, so often so irritatingly redundant, here hits the nail on the head, as they point out on their review on Pitchfork here, where it gets an 8.3.

The album manages to be at once light and airy, and yet clearly contemplative as it considers and ponders the inevitable. The art work perfectly captures that lightheavy, trippy dippy sense of happy resignation propelled and punctuated by the rhythms and tensions of 21st century hip hop.

Ellison is quite simply the man, and this my friend is where it’s at. You can see the video for Never Catch Me featuring Kendrick Lamar here.

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Flying Lotus’ inventive new album “Until The Quiet Comes”.

Until The Quiet Comes is the 4th album from Flying Lotus and continues his fearless foray into the very outer realm of approachable pop. It’s still in other words a conventional album, but you’re unlikely to have heard music that sounds anything quite like it.

Or rather, it sounds like stuff you’d already be familiar with, but all the different parts have been molded and fashioned in a startlingly original manner.

Steven Ellison, to give him his full name, is a devotee of the pioneer producer J Dilla. And, as the grand nephew of Alice Coltrane, herself an accomplished free jazz musician, as well as being the wife of the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, his take on contemporary music was always going to be both eclectically multi-cultural and aggressively experimental.

But it was only really with his third album, Cosmogramma that the world began to sit up and take notice. Justly lauded across the board, the boys from Pitchfork gave it an august 8.8 here. So this is his potentially difficult follow-up.

Until The Quiet Comes occupies the same sort of terrain that Radiohead mapped out in their more restless moments on Kid A and Amnesiac, and that were then further explored on Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Erasure.

Unsurprisingly, Yorke surfaces again here as a guest vocalist, just as he had on Cosmogramma, and is here joined by Erykah Badu. But neither are allowed – or seek – to overwhelm, and are just one more feature in an unchartered and surprising vista.

It is quieter than Cosmagramma, as the boys from Pitchfork note in their excellent review of it, here, where they gave it a measured 8.5. It’s still a landscape pock-marked by digital blips, where conventional melodies are forever being lost in rhythmic detours. But somehow, those detours are less nervy and more measured than they were on the previous album.

What it is more than anything else is a headphones album. It’s not the kind of thing you’re going to be returning to every day. But when you do and the mood takes, you’ll be very glad that you did.

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