Review: Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!

You’re Dead! is producer Steven Ellison’s fifth and most hyperactive album as Flying Lotus. It’s a jittery freakout of a creation, combining footwork, hip hop and jazz fusion to create something impressively virtuosic, but only intermittently accessible.

FlyLo’s newest adventure both whimpers and laughs (literally) in the face of death, shadowed by the memories of some of his late friends and family. “To me it’s a celebration of the next experience,” he says of You’re Dead!. “Also, it’s the transition and the confusion.”

Disorder is instantaneous on You’re Dead!, as FlyLo’s jazz undertones become overtones, dissipating just as quickly as they spring to life. From the lounge-friendly Tesla to the free-form Herbie Hancock-featuring Moment Of Hesitation, You’re Dead! remains transient, twisted and dream-like. Only two of the album’s 19 songs are over three minutes long.

The fifth track on You’re Dead!, Never Catch Me, is the first longer than two minutes, and the album’s most radio-friendly cut. Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s quick-spitting rhymes pull momentum from a pummelling rhythm, which breaks down into an effortless quick-stepping groove.

The overcrowded spaces on You’re Dead!, which come complete with some erratic guitar solos, are countered by tongue-in-cheek black humour. “Hold up hold up, I bet you thinkin’ that we dead / Hold up hold up, I have this bullet in my head,” Ellison’s rap persona Captain Murphy says over bouncing melodies and gun shots on the Snoop Dogg-guested Dead Man’s Tetris.

As a concept album, You’re Dead! is the most complex and most filmic Flying Lotus release to date, but it’s also the most frustrating. Its intricacies are easily missed if you’re not listening intently, and its sound is often overwhelming. I’m sure that’s Ellison’s exact intention, though; death is an innately frightening concept.

You’re Dead! is available now. Flying Lotus is set to bring his ‘Layer 3’ 3D live show to Laneway Festival 2015.

Watch: Flying Lotus – Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

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