volume 10

Flying Lotus




For more than a decade, electronic composer Steven Ellison, a.k.a. Flying Lotus, has churned out living, breathing collages of hip-hop, dubstep, jazz and blues. A disciple of the late beatmaster J Dilla, Ellison is the current king of the beat scene in Los Angeles. Both his own music and the music of the artists on Ellison's Brainfeeder label have turned what started as instrumental hip-hop into a sound of his own. It's a wonky bundle of skittering beats, bass-heavy bottoms and delicate, melodic tops.

Ellison first made beats for the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim network before releasing his debut full-length, 1983 to widespread acclaim. Since then he's released 5 more full-length LPs, 7 EPs, and experimented with hip-hop via his rapping alias "Captain Murphy". Ellison has also focused on several film-related projects including his debut feature film Kuso, a grotesque horror movie that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. That year, Ellison also scored Blade Runner Black Out 2022, the animated prequel to Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049.

On Steven Ellison’s sixth album, his sweeping jazz-funk feels limitless. It contains all the psychedelic meanderings, cartoon references and arcade game music diversions you expect from a FlyLo release, but at its heart ‘Flamagra’ is a warped gospel album. It sounds more like a sketchbook, with FlyLo crafting each minute with great care and technical dexterity. Admittedly, Flying Lotus is a difficult artist to first listen. He doesn’t spell out what you’re hearing and challenges you to listen intently while journeying through all the intricacies. Flamagra, just like every Flying Lotus full-length album that came before it, is a body of work you'll be thinking about long after it comes to a close.

via Allmusic, NPR & Pitchfork