There aren’t really words to describe Flying Lotus’ music. You can call it hip-hop, but then you’d be avoiding the blatant elements that make it very much the opposite. You can call it a soul/jazz fusion, but then you’d be forgetting about the way Lotus speaks, how his tonality jaunts around the improvisational paths of his songs and lands in a cool pool of slick poetry. It’s not meant to be defined and that’s exactly why it needs to be heard.
Flying Lotus — the moniker Steven Ellison chose for this project — wears a lot of hats. He’s produced most of the track music you hear on Adult Swim and he’s created the original score for several films and directed his own, titled Kuso. He goes under another name, Captain Murphy, for his rapping side project. The bounds of his idiosyncratic style are endless.
The music he creates under Flying Lotus — or FlyLo for those who desire to be close to a person who says thousands of “hellos” in his lifetime — falls somewhere in the top tier of what experimental can truly mean. It’s weird enough to mean something but not weird enough to lose his audience. He’s perfected fan captivity and holds the listeners in a triangular prism of suspense, intrigue and ultimately, awe.
If you don’t believe me just listen to You’re Dead!, Lotus’ 2014 album. Not only was the release his most critically successful, but the featured artists also echo the musical style that Lotus holds so dear. Kendrick Lamar spits out his anger in “Never Catch Me” meanwhile Thundercat dominates the powers that be in “Descent Into Madness.”
Lotus is touring for his newest album, Flamagra. His sixth studio album includes the same sweeping sonic indescribability amongst a myriad of legendary guest appearances including George Clinton, Anderson .Paak, Thundercat, Solange and legendary film director David Lynch. The latter’s collaboration is on one of the first singles of the album titled “Fire is Coming.” No, the Twin Peaks reference is not accidental. If this detail isn’t a glimpse into the genre-bending, brain-melting experience that awaits you, I don’t know what is.
Not only is Flying Lotus bringing his music to Denver this Friday, but he’s also bringing it to Mission Ballroom. The sound in Denver’s newest venue is the best this state has to offer. The acoustic clarity alone is sure to amplify the musicianship on stage and create an unparalleled experience. With a new album under his belt and a new venue to showcase it in, this show is sure to entrance.