Flying Lotus performing live

“I wouldn’t be the cat I am today if I didn’t come out to London and immerse myself in the club culture,” Flying Lotus tells the HERE Outernet crowd at the climax of his set. In the UK capital for two special shows that blend dizzying visuals with dynamic mixes spanning funk, house, hip-hop, dubstep and more, the LA producer, DJ and co-founder of pioneering record label Brainfeeder – born Steven D. Bingley-Ellison – repeatedly pays tribute to a city that has played a pivotal role in his journey.

The hoards of Dilla-loving hip-hop connoisseurs and avant-garde electronic enthusiasts in attendance are full of appreciation for a man whose increasingly film-oriented schedule limits opportunities for live UK performances: earlier this year, he directed sci-fi thriller Ash starring Aaron Paul and Eliza Gonzales.

Kicking off with crowd-pleasing hip-hop tracks featuring Kendrick Lamar and Mac Miller, he gradually builds the tempo against a futuristic, interstellar backdrop. Flying Lotus’ first big break — producing music for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming — shows his penchant for merging audio and visual, and the huge, dazzling screens surrounding his decks reflect that grounding, flickering from fiery sparks of bonfire-red light, to intricate patterns resembling throbbing hearts and blood vessels. The appearance of fluid illustrations of a samurai and dragon when FlyLo plays tracks from Yasuke, his acclaimed 2021 Netflix anime series score, prompts a huge response.

FlyLo repeatedly showcases his experimental streak. He’s impatient on the buttons throughout the 75-minute set, fading out some tracks after just a few seconds, and crafting long, ambient pauses that provide space to flip easily between genres. He switches from funky house to glitchy industrial breakbeat, passing through booming dubstep along the way, and producing a room full of appreciatively screwed-up faces in doing so.

The range of records on show underlines FlyLo’s versatility. After dropping the dark, intricately layered horns and percussion of ‘Wesley’s Theory’, highlighting his production role on Kendrick Lamar’s seismic jazz-fusion record ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, he jumps down onstage, mic in hand, to spit tracks like ‘Shake Weight’ made under his rap alias Captain Murphy.

Perhaps the best-received song of all is Thundercat‘s ‘Them Changes’ – co-written and produced by FlyLo – dropped during the encore. Beaming, he repeatedly cuts the beat, letting the crowd roar back a capella the anthemic lines “Nobody move, there’s blood on the floor / And I can’t find my heart”. Hands high in applause, he exits soon after, energised by his impact on the room. Fans soak up the Grammy-winning multi-hyphenate’s bold, experimental audio-visual set with glee, and so they should; who knows when Flying Lotus will next touch down in London?

The post Flying Lotus live in London: a genre-bending audio-visual masterclass appeared first on NME.


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