Tuesday 14 October 2014

Review of 'You're Dead!' by Flying Lotus

LSD is bad for you. Try Flying Lotus instead. 

The electronic producer has been releasing audial hallucinogens for the last decade. His last effort, Until the Quiet Comes, was one of my favourite records of 2012, a smooth and jazzy ride through the subconscious. You’re Dead! is comparatively less smooth but ten times more jazzy, scattered with walking bass, saxophone solos, bebop pianos and drum freakouts. There’s a lot of instrumental noodling on this album that I’m still trying to work out whether I like or not. The musicianship is certainly impressive, that’s for sure.

Of course, Flying Lotus doesn’t do it all himself. Indie R&B artist, Thundercat, helps with most of the bass. Others handle the drums and keys, including Herbie Hancock. Herbie who? Oh dear, let me educate you. WARNING: THE MUSIC VIDEO BELOW IS TERRIFYING.

 Vocals are meanwhile brought by a variety of guests. Kendrick Lamar drops some fiery verses on ‘Never Catch Me’. Angel Deradoorian sings angelicly on ‘Siren song’. Snoop Dogg even makes a feature on one of the songs (or is he still referring to himself as Snoop Lion?).

Overall, with its noodling instrumentation and multiple guest stars, the whole thing ends up being one of FlyLo's busiest and most disorientating records yet. Some of it, namely the first four tracks, doesn't do much for me because its so scatterbrain. However, as chaotic as it feels, to dismiss the whole album as a mess would be ignorant. As was the case with Until the Quiet Comes, there's a huge emphasis on keeping the music flowing, and all the tracks seem to slide perfectly together like pieces of one big psychedelic jigsaw puzzle. There’s also a clear journey taking place. The album starts off epic and triumphant but begins to take a dark turn towards the end, like an acid trip gone bad.

 These darker moments towards the latter half are among some of my favourite on the album. ‘Descent into madness’ features some spooky vocal harmonies from Thundercat akin to Mike Patton and is a really chilling track. This is immediately followed by another creepy number, ‘The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep’, a bizarre and twisted track in which Flying Lotus provides vocals himself under the guise of Captain Murphy, featuring the disturbing repeated hook ‘ take another pill, take another pill’. Part of me would love to see Flying Lotus develop this side more. It makes for an interesting glimpse into the musician's possible future.