Building a career based on mystery and pure creative genius, Flying Lotus (AKA Steven Ellison) has developed a die-hard following. With his numerous performances at once long-standing club night Low End Theory and the establishment of his prestigious indie electronic label Brainfeeder, Ellison’s contribution to the evolution Los Angeles’ beat scene is undeniable. The great nephew of well-respected musician Alice Coltrane, celebrated harpist and pianist and wife of famous jazz musician John Coltrane, Ellison’s ingenuity shined through early on in his career with the release of his EP Reset.
Releasing his brilliant new album Flamagra earlier this spring on prestigious label Warp Records, the album is a twenty-seven track ode to experimental jazz and hip-hop. Featuring a myriad of friends and collaborators across the board ranging from household hip-hop name Anderson .Paak to the soulful Solange and up and coming hip-hop superstar Tierra Whack, the album explores and pushes the boundaries of modern beat making with its energy and super smooth electro-funk vibe. One of the most unique features on the album is an eerie story narrated by critically acclaimed surrealistic filmmaker and storyteller David Lynch over the track “Fire Is Coming.”
To support the release of Flamagra, the infamous beat maker and father of Brainfeeder, recently embarked on a nationwide 3D Tour. For the official final stop on the tour, Ellison brought his audiovisual spectacle back to his hometown for a vibrant performance at esteemed Los Angeles based venue The Novo. The venue's incredible sound and state of the art acoustics were the perfect accompaniment to complete the sensory and fully immersive experience. Opening the night were some of Brainfeeder’s finest beat makers, Brandon Coleman, Salami Rose Joe Louis, and PBDY.
An active follower of Flying Lotus since his early days at Low End Theory, it’s been exciting to watch the production value of his live shows progress over the years as his music has steadily evolved and become increasingly intricate. His new 3D live experience provided a unique and hypnotic experience that intricately fused together a collection of videos, visuals, and animation from his previous work along with new visuals from longtime collaborator Strangeloop. The 3D environment seemed to fully embrace and embody his creative vision, powerfully catapulting his audience into his bizarre and psychedelic world.
Flying Lotus mostly played tracks featured off of his last two releases, Flamagra and You’re Dead. His set also featured some classic fan favorites such as “Massage Situation" and “Zodiac Shit." Flying Lotus performed material from his Captain Murphy alter-ego project in addition to taking the time to make memorials for the late Ras G and Mac Miller. Several times, Flying Lotus broke out and rapped, showcasing his tremendous lyrical flow.
For his encore, Flying Lotus surprised and excited fans when he brought out progressive and innovative jazz guitarist and longtime collaborator Thundercat and opener Coleman on the synth bass. Performing “Them Changes” featured off of Thundercat’s 2017’s Drunk along with Flying Lotus fan-favorite “Do The Astral Plane,” the trio delivered the perfect combination of soulful and smooth jazz and experimental electronic beats.
A longtime follower of Flying Lotus I can attest that like fine wine his sets have only improved over time. While the LA beat scene might have calmed down in recent years, it was very nice to see it very much so alive for one night, paying homage to quite possibly the best and most innovative beat maker of the modern era.