It has been five years between releases, during which Flying Lotus (aka FlyLo aka Steven Ellison) produced one of the most disturbing body horror films (maybe ever?), but the LA-based creative is back and acquainting us with new music on his sixth studio album Flamagra.
Perhaps ‘prolific’ is too limited a word to accurately depict FlyLo’s artistry. What with the steady experimental releases under both of his monikers (he raps under Captain Murphy), global music festival billings, several film scores, featuring alongside Thundercat on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, television disc jockey spots, two Grammy noms… and that’s just over one year.
Applying his flawless hand to the downtrodden 3D Glasses format, Flying Lotus took Sydney on a ride through space, time, and head-trip psychedelia.
So, pulling off such a majestic audiovisual live show doesn’t seem like a very big stretch. FlyLo is no stranger to the format, having toured 3D shows for a number of years now. Although, when everyone threw their 3D glasses in the trash for good after Avatar in the late noughties, Ellison soldiered on, bringing to it his incredible innovative mind and nuanced approach. This was Australia’s first taste of this special tour and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Opening the night was Warp Records label-mate Mark Pritchard who seemed to have swapped his usual down-tempo beats with a heavier set, perhaps to align more with FlyLo’s vibe, but also to accompany Jonathan Zawada’s Prometheus-level visuals.
Flowing straight on from this was a short vignette called Fire Is Coming, the FlyLo/David Lynch collaboration plucked from Flamagra. It was a surrealist head spin (no kidding) featuring Lynchie’s head on the body of a wolf – enough said.
We barely had time to collect ourselves before Ellison breezed onto the stage and leered over his deck, guarded by an Orwellian cage of metal rods. The confluence of FlyLo’s vast pool of genres – experimental hip-hop, psychedelia, neo-soul, electronica – with these sweeping, chasmic visuals was simply mind-melting.
Eventually, FlyLo emerged into the fore smiling and thanking the crowd – it was over already? Once the encore had rolled around, we were in ad lib mode as Ellison conversed easily with the crowd, even dancing with one punter who managed to jump the barrier and entice the crowd into a circle pit.
Overall, a night full of surprises and thoroughly mind-altering content.