“You’re Dead!” is Flying Lotus’ fifth full-length studio album. Steve Ellison, also known as Flying Lotus, is a genre-bending beat-smith who constantly pushes the boundaries of experimental electronic music. In the dawn of an era where technology is becoming increasingly important in the ways that it affects the musical process, Flying Lotus is a prolific pioneer who leads the way through uncharted sonic territory and by doing so, simultaneously inspires an entire subculture of aspiring bedroom producers who spend their time mashing buttons on samplers and exploring the nuances of Ableton Live or FL Studio.
“You’re Dead!” is aptly titled: while the overall theme is death, an undeniable lightness and profound weirdness pervades the music like a spontaneous and wild laugh in the face of fate. The album consists of 22 tracks, the majority of which are under two minutes long. This format lends itself surprisingly well to the music as it creates the impression of looking through the sketchbook of a brilliant artist where ideas are briefly but not insufficiently portrayed in flashes of inspiration.
It also creates an air of unpredictability that never completely dissipates. If one were to listen through the album without looking at the track list, you would have difficulty determining with certainty where one track ends and another begins. Even within the context of a single track, the listener finds it almost impossible to accurately predict where Flying Lotus’ odd orchestration will be headed in the following moments.
A cacophonous build-up may give way to comfortable silence instead of reaching a climax. A score of synthesizers over crunchy electronic drums may lead into a jazzy interlude with shimmering keys and masterful bass guitar courtesy of Thundercat, Ellison’s longtime friend and collaborator. One track may sound cluttered; the next, minimalistic. This album is difficult to summarize, as it is an eclectic mosaic of vastly different sounds and styles.
“You’re Dead!” is a winding and confusing journey that, while continuously interesting, is not always easy or comfortable to listen to. In this way, it effectively mirrors reality. Perhaps Flying Lotus is on the same wavelength as John Cage, an innovative American musician and composer who changed the way people thought about music. In one of his lectures entitled Experimental Music, Cage wrote, “Music is a purposeless play, an affirmation of life — not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we are living.”
You can stream “You’re Dead!” by Flying Lotus on Spotify or purchase it on iTunes.
Travis Dorman is a Journalism and Electronic Media major and a music enthusiast.
Edited by Jessica Carr