Albums

Album Review: Flying Lotus – ‘You’re Dead!’

The fifth full-length release from the Los Angeles producer Flying Lotus, You’re Dead!, starts off incredibly hectic. Opening track, ’Theme’, sounds like a great orchestra warming up and tuning their instruments, preparing for the fast paced, scatty tempo that is to come.

As with much of Flying Lotus’s work, it’s an album combining the electronic with post-bop jazz. Artists like Herbie Hancock feature on the album, contributing to the energetic feel which is created by the myriad of instruments Flying Lotus uses in these songs. Lead single, ‘Never Catch Me’, features Kendrick Lemar and serves as the climax for the chaotic opening songs, building in tempo and intensity throughout the track. Its orchestral passions rise so high that you forget that Flying Lotus is a producer and not a live band. Kendrick Lamar words remain close to the album’s themes, abstractly talk of life and death. Jazz now being something of a recurring theme in Kendrick career, having rapped over similar skatty beats on Ab Soul’s ‘These Days’.

Its orchestral passions rise so high that you forget that Flying Lotus is a producer and not a live band

While You’re Dead! may start off wildly energetic, its pace is soon to slow down. ‘Dead Man’s Tetris’- featuring Captain Murphy (Flying Lotus’s rap alter ego) and Snoop Dogg- has a robotic, swampy industrial sound, reminiscent of the backing track to a factory level on a run and jump game. Lyrics being filled with murder and death references continue the record’s morbid theme. The following songs are comparatively melancholy incorporating various mellifluous such as wind chimes and ethereal electronic beeps, bring a more peaceful feeling to the album. Songs like ‘Siren Song’ feature a fire crackling sound and enticing vocals staying very true to the Odyssean references in its title.

a robotic, swampy industrial sound, reminiscent of the backing track to a factory level on a run and jump game

It’s when ‘Moment of Hesitation’ comes on when the album takes on a darker, more sinister sound. The uncertain, scatty instruments return, losing their melodious coherence accompanied by heavier basses and dissonant, hazy sounds. ‘Descent into Madness’, featuring Thundercat, holds disturbing, mocking, loopy vocals that conjure images of insane protagonists in Gothic literature. ‘The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep’ continues the theme, Captain Murphy delving into subjects of drug abuse to “take the edge away”, to quieten the voice in his head. The track’s distortion combined with Murphy’s pitch bends work particularly well, adding to the ominous feel of the song.

echoed brass and optimistic sounding jazz melodies give hope for the mad man character the record has created

The album finishes on a positive vibe; a soulful, echoed brass and optimistic sounding jazz melodies give hope for the mad man character the record has created. Images of rebirth  are created alongside suggestions that the protagonist is floating to heaven . Upon reach ‘The Beyond’ they refuse their deceased fate, boldly claiming “we’ll live forever” on the last track ‘The Refusal’.

You’re Dead! is well worth investing time in, regardless of genre taste; this album is unique and powerful- something excitingly fresh yet classically redolent.

8/10

Jacob Strauss

Jacob is listening to: Scroobius Pip – ‘Stunner’

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