Tag Archives: flying lotus

Album of the Week: “You’re Dead!” by Flying Lotus

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Daniel’s Thoughts

Flying Lotus is now six studio albums deep–one of them was his Captain Murphy project Duality–and the first thing that comes to mind is where You’re Dead! stacks up against the rest. Almost incomparable are Los Angeles and Cosmogramma, near flawless works of art that are drowned in reckless counts of harp strings, manic synthetic rushes and liberating progressions of artsy jazz-hop. Somewhere swelling underneath these works stands You’re Dead!, perhaps FlyLo’s most exotic work, and definitely the most guest-heavy.

Penetrating deep into the stereo, You’re Dead! leads with quick-hitting intro tracks that paint a rushing mural of jazz highlights and rapid snare licks, where just the sound of each note feels like it’s living and breathing inside of the listener’s head. There’s “Turkey Dog Coma,” a song that sprints from the very get-go under anxious drum scats and Thundercat’s rumbling bass. “Ready err Not” on the other hand slows down, playing soundtrack to an imaginary video game that takes place in a dark creepy castle. And then there’s the Kendrick Lamar feature called “Never Catch Me.” You’d be hard-pressed to find another MC that can effortlessly spit over a FlyLo beat, but K-Dot is one of them. “Ain’t no blood pumpin’ no fear,” Lamar spits over a rushing trip beat and a flowing piano melody. “I got hope inside of my bones.”

You’re Dead!, like all of Flying Lotus’ records, paints this impossible picture of hip-hop, jazz, trip-hop, rock, electro, and blues intertwining in a cauldron of goodness. It’s a steady improvement over Until the Quiet Comes, with full-fledged themes constructed over the entire piece, and throughout you’ll get hints of Cosmogramma, Los Angeles and 1983 hiding like Waldo on the beach. If you want an “Album of the Year” candidate, look no further.

Gus’ Thoughts

Sometimes I think about dying, or rather, if anything happens after death. I don’t necessarily mean in a religious sense, although that’s part of it. Generally, it’s more about the mind. Where do people’s thoughts go? Do we actually just cease to exist? Surely there must be something following what we, in society, refer to as death. Considering this, Flying Lotus’ new record, You’re Dead!, may just be the musical manifestation to some of these ideas. Released on October 7th, 2014, You’re Dead! is a frantic, yet clearly intentional, compilation of hard-hitting beats, jazz melodies and rhymes that is driven by these thoughts. In some ways, the music is much like the Lotus we all know and love. However, as opposed to some of his other albums, which are packed to the brim with off-kilter percussion and spaced out synth, You’re Dead! is propelled by a very specific concept.

The beginning of the album has the feel of a long intro as the first four tracks, “Theme,” “Tesla,” “Cold Dead” and “Fkn Dead,” flow into each other, picking up speed and intensity with heavy guitars, bright keyboard notes and vivid saxophone. Just as we reach what seems to be a climax of sorts, piano cuts in and “Never Catch Me” begins. Easily one of the best songs of 2014, “Never Catch Me” features Kendrick Lamar, whose words add to the concept. Featuring Snoop Dogg on “Dead Man’s Tetris” and Flying Lotus rapping as Captain Murphy, the lyrics on these tracks push the theme forward. However, as one should expect from a Flying Lotus record, the music dominates the canvas in the best way.

With help from the piano man himself, Herbie Hancock, Thundercat on bass and soundtrack specialist Ennio Morricone, You’re Dead! is an on-point combination of more aggressive styles of jazz that fit perfectly with hand claps, syncopated kick drums, fast-moving horn and bass lines. With his sixth studio album, Flying Lotus has delivered a wonderfully furious combination of musical styles that moves together seamlessly, creating a journey through space, time and what the afterlife might just sound like.

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Album of the Week: “Cosmogramma” by Flying Lotus

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Flying Lotus
Cosmogramma
Warp Records, 2010

Daniel’s Thought

Cosmogramma is like a bottled up piece of experimental exploration that takes you to the outer reaches of space. It spoils even the most ignorant listener with grossly engaging fills of jazz, hip-hop and electronic trance, all while remaining stunningly composed. Bordering as one big forty-five minute epic, Cosmogramma never at one point can be picked apart; it stands more as a fusion of swirling sound that takes you to the highest musical stage, and then slowly lets you drift down to catch your breath.

Opening track “Clock Catcher” bleeps and bloops through a cavalcade of electronic tumbling and strings that are plucked right out of the instruments. Its rattles and quick-hitting percussion could stand as either video game fodder or the soundtrack to a futuristic horror flick, and with this experimentation the imagery comparisons are endless. “Computer Face/ /Pure Being” relies on a mid-song synth breakdown that imposes its will over the hundreds of other sounds glistening on the track, and as if accompanying Rogue Squadron as they take down the Death Star, this space-like cut sends vectors of sound all over the place like a tumbling X-Wing. The Thom Yorke assisted track “…And The World Laughs With You” dances with pulsating hums and interjecting high-pitched vocal samples, while the percussion skips on a trip-hop ride into the mind of FlyLo. “Zodiac Shit” takes a pretty easy-going hip-hop approach and spreads itself like it’s accompanying the video game Galaga, as elements of jazz-fusion and strings drive the theme forward. “Recoiled” is smothered with jazz drumming and saxophone swells to start, but as the song progresses, FlyLo flips the switch and turns it into a jaunting slow African jam that’s eventually engulfed in a harrowing synth overlay.

Cosmogramma is the epitome of positive experimentation. Based mainly on electronic tunes that replicate futuristic sci-fi imagery, Flying Lotus is able to incorporate elements of hip-hop, jazz, funk and trance in-between to create a pure masterpiece.

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The Starting Five: 9/11/13

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Every week, Daniel and Gus pick five songs to share called The Starting Five. This week, they’re personally sharing these tracks as a feature.

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The Mixes: The Dreamin’ in Color Mixtape

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By: Daniel Hodgman

The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.

Past mixtapes: The “Keeping a Current With What’s Current” Mixtape

The “Dreamin’ in Color” Mixtape

The theme behind this mixtape is that of fulfillment. It’s an ode to the songs that make you breathe and take everything in; it’s an ode to certain tracks that captivate the liveliness of space and illusion; and it’s an ode to those who create masterpieces that impose multiple branches on the tree of a certain song. The “Dreamin’ in Color” mixtape has a lot of themes and variety, but all of the songs are centered on a single track of greatness. Enjoy.

“Down for the Underground” -Lord Finesse

“The same guy gotta maintain my remain fly / That’s here to be, produced and arranged by / Buckwild, Lord Finesse the double-header out to flip cheddar / Stars on the rise like Chris Webber”

Depending on how you listen to the production, Buckwild either reminds you of starry skies or dreams full of Cheshire Cats and the Ace of Hearts. Or, it could remind you of something completely different. “Down for the Underground” is a testament to Buckwild’s skill behind the beats, and to this day he is still underrated. Lord Finesse supplies the track with hard-headed and precise flow, and overall, “Down for the Underground” is that perfect blend of herbs and spices.

“Bluebird” -One Self

“Drinking wine reminds me of what honest is / Making me wonder where the hell the logic is”

As if this track glides on an ice field of groovy bass stabs and twangy guitar riffs, “Bluebird” gives you the feeling of doing anything.

“Gold Soul Theory” -The Underachievers

“Freeze, repeat, rewind, back to the time I was blind / Never, I always incline the Third Eye”

Maybe it’s because this track is soaked with MJ, but “Gold Soul Theory” flies higher than a lot of other new age hip-hop tunes.

“Changes” -Tupac

“Learn to see me as a brother instead of two distant strangers”

If there’s one thing you should know about Tupac, it’s that despite his changing styles throughout his career, he was always able to succeed as a poet. It wasn’t just his lyricism or his cadence that grabbed the attention of millions, but it was the way he presented himself on each and every track. His attitude is something often overlooked by critics, but in reality this is why he stood out. “Changes” may be one of those tracks you’ve heard too many times, but it perfectly exemplifies Tupac’s grit.

“Yoke the Joker” -Naughty by Nature

“I can snap, rap, pack, click-clack, patter-pat-pat / Take that ass to the point you have to ask for your ass back”

After hearing Treach’s opening verse, this song fully takes you.

“Orbit Brazil” -Flying Lotus

“Orbit Brazil” is Flying Lotus doing what he does best. His composition of blips and beeps mixed with experimental percussion and non-regular patterns is odd but fulfilling. The main synth breakdown is purely a takeoff into the outer reaches of space, and while orbiting over Brazil I’d love to blast this.

“Daddy Fat Sax” -Big Boi

“My daddy told me it was mine for the taking”

The pulsing introduction, Big Boi’s presence, the shrieking background synths, the joy. This song gives you the confidence to do anything. Walk into work or class with this blasting and the results will come.

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