Flying Lotus – You’re Dead [Review]

This was a hard record to review as it was very difficult for me to try to condense the magnitude of the record’s message into a digestible article without completely missing the point. Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) builds a universe here that spills and expands from points within points. A landscape of shifting consciousness held together by a crystalline latticework of patterns centered around, and largely stemming from, a primary concern of the human condition: death.

You’re Dead! is loaded with a brilliant collection of talent connected, arranged, and encouraged by the compositional genius of FlyLo. The album boasts contributions by the great Herbie Hancock, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dog, Earl Sweatshirt, Niki Randa, Angel Deradoorian, and Kimbra.  Brendan Small, creator of and composer for Metalocalypse is also featured on the album, a perfect addition considering the “brutal” nature of the record’s (perceived) intent.

At first glance the title very well may have been off-putting enough to deter closed-minded, presumptuous listeners. I would confidently say that these people are allowing their sensitivity to prevent them from experiencing a record that, however macabre, is far from bleak. You’re Dead! seamlessly flows from cluttered chaos and blaring stimulus, such as can be heard in “Tesla” into “Cold Dead,” to precisely metered serenity through scintillating space, as in “Coronus the Terminator” and “Turtles.” Melodies appear for brief romps in existence and then fade into chaotic or subdued ambiance. Instruments tumble and condense momentarily before dissolving back into space at a later point in time. The music in the album is airy and breathes, flowing into and out of your lungs, always around you, cold or warm. Just because your breath has left you, it has not left this world.

The album alludes to western and eastern impressions of death. It explores the secular and spiritual dichotomy of thought by evoking both cold, biological finality and transcendent infinite consciousness.  There are scary times when the music is grating and runs like oil through veins – a cheeky evil smiling as it watches a slowly degrading psyche, such as in “The Boys Who Died In Their Sleep.” There are also times like in “Siren Song” when death does not feel like fear, but like some free floating nothingness that shifts to the grateful wonder of “Turtles.”

FlyLo has given the listener his soul in this record and invited them to see themselves within it. He constructs an essence for death and paints it, molds it, shapes it in a myriad of ways, defining the thing by the rules and properties that govern it, as it can never truly be described any other way. Flowing through the various meanings and interpretations of death allow the listener to dissociate from preconceptions to think on the subject themselves. A “protest” against complacency and the morbid impressions of ending and nothingness.

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