Flying Lotus
You're Dead!


3.8
excellent

Review

by Deviant STAFF
October 9th, 2014 | 682 replies


Release Date: 10/07/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And then, the quietus came

Behind the hazy memories of rhythm and the tweaked-out faded melodies, Steven Ellison's body of work has always been defined by its exploration of life. From birth and existence, to the reaches of our imagination and our limitations; the identity of a town and that town's imprint on one's own identity, Ellison has, with a cataloger's fervor, attempted to chronicle the very fabric of the human condition. That his latest LP should arrive with a title that carries with it the very gravitas of finality after such an introspective release as Until The Quiet Comes is of little surprise; where the former chose to probe the subconscious, the latter throws light on perhaps the most suppressed of our natural urges - the understanding and need for survival in the face of mortality.

Such a singular and conceptual melancholy as death's eventual inevitability is, in itself, a heavy topic to be addressing, though also one that's arguably behind every musician and songwriter who has ever attempted to diagnose the maladies lying at the heart of humanity (there's a joke in here somewhere about the topic being "done to death"). Ellison however approaches life's last great mystery with the same sense of avant-garde absurdity that's become a hallmark of the Flying Lotus name.

With each full-length release Ellison has continued to drift further and further away from the LA beat-scene that he almost single-handedly brought into the mainstream's consciousness, and this latest LP only offers brief glimpses from the J Dilla-aping days of 1983. Dilla still remains a key component of Ellison's identity though; his influence is as much tied into the conceptual narrative of the album as Austin Peralta and Alice Coltrane. They're the motivation behind Ellison's constant bridging of sounds and worlds, and You're Dead! represents the artist attempting to reconnect with these catalysts of creation.

That Flylo's latest LP should find its title cut to ribbons with the terminality of an exclamation mark says a lot about the way Ellison has approached the subject matter at hand. It presents the impression of an irreverent remark, a curiously morbid reminder, that alternately seems fascinated by, and laughs at, the prospect of shuffling off this mortal coil. While lying at the opposite end of the spectrum, this celebration of limbo is still a natural extension, and perhaps the integral chapter, to the producer's detailing (and understanding) of life's structurally unforgiving cycle. As if to make mockery of such a linear continuum, You're Dead! attempts to find a counterpoint to Miles Davis' reckless disregard for what jazz was supposed to be and sound like.

Armed with such an agenda, Ellison attempts to pull Bitches Brew apart, treating Herbie Hancock's ivory flashes and Thunderkat's bass noodling as landmarks in his hyper-lurid vista of hard bop and jazz-laden ambiance. From the black hole of droning opener 'Theme', to the percussive onslaught of footwork-inspired 'Never Catch Me', through to the album's final coronach of mortal epiphany, Ellison attempts to redesign the Jazz Album; experimental, seemingly improvisational, and preoccupied solely with its own vanguard. You're Dead! therefore operates as one whole thematic piece; while Kendrick Lamar assists on undoubtedly the album's centerpiece, 'Never Catch Me' serves as the only parcel really capable of existing outside of the medium. As the album moves through various sections and suites, it can create jarring transitions - brief passages of reflection that beg for more life and zest. The album releases such an incredible burst of energy so early in the proceedings that Ellison seems to spend the rest of the release trying to replicate the effect, or alternatively, trying to catch up with his restless persona.

Though 'Coronus, The Terminator', 'Siren Song' and the aforementioned 'Never Catch Me' relish in their longevity, they're somewhat at odds with the constant activity You're Dead! can't seem to live without. Which is a common criticism of Ellison, and ultimately how you approach and appreciate this album will be dictated by your experiences with the artist's previous works. But through all the ebb and flow of the album's staggered terrain,
there's very little tying down the individual components. It's not until the album enters its final stretch that Flylo seems to settle into any kind of permanent continuity. In a section that recalls The Roots' similarly-themed Undun, Ellison ends his journey with an ascendant passage of glory. Like the final call of a heralding valkyrie, Flylo creates a tonal feeling of awe and light, perhaps as a coping mechanism for this last great gig. It levels the obsequy assembly before it, revealing a gratifying feeling of pride at the accomplishment of life - a last laugh, perhaps.

With a million feelings crammed into mere moments, You're Dead! makes for heavy listening, both in tone and execution. It's a celebration dedicated to friends, family and mentors - one that doesn't wallow in melancholy but instead surges with pride and acknowledgment. Save for a few stretches of inconsistent detours, You're Dead! is another reliable entry into the canon of one of the most brazen and forward-thinking producers out there. Though not a defining work, it's still a mark of excellence - an exploration into anxiety that reveals both beauty and courage in the process.




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user ratings (796)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Aaron (5)
An experimental music gem...

jtswope (3.5)
Flying Lotus stares mortality straight in the eye and subverts its limitations through impressive so...

Bradley Harris (4)
Why fear death when it is this enjoyable?...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 9th 2014


32190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Never Catch Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lXD0vv-ds8



AgainAnd
October 9th 2014


281 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Still savouring after four listens what is my first FlyLo release. A really interesting and dense 38 minutes. The abrupt turns really relish in replicating the frustration of life flashing by and ending too fast, while there are also arresting moments.



Now that I think about it, in some funny way, a rating of 3.8 seems like a very fitting score for the album. An equal increment of 0.1 for each minute on the record, since as the review points out they can't easily be pulled apart.

PappyMason
October 9th 2014


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review.



I'm looking forward to just sitting down and listening to this.

Itchybutts
October 9th 2014


123 Comments


new teebs is better imo

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 9th 2014


32190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8



3rd review in a month are you feeling okay?




Got a BNM itch

BigPleb
October 9th 2014


50959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Clever summary and really nice rev too, imaginary pos.



Where would you recommend starting with FlyLo Dev? I heard his music a long time ago and can't remember what he sounds like haha.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 9th 2014


32190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

There's a natural progression through every one of his LPs, but my favourite of his will always be Los Angeles

ExplosiveOranges
Contributing Reviewer
October 9th 2014


4408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Dev takes the new "staff reviewers" to school. Where should I start with this guy?

BigPleb
October 9th 2014


50959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So go chronologically?

PappyMason
October 9th 2014


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

my favourite of his will always be Los Angeles [2]



Great starting point too.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 9th 2014


24597 Comments


Between this and Caribou my end of year list might actually have an electronic album on it somewhere.

The end of times must be approaching.

Digging: The National - Sleep Well Beast

frigyourgenre
October 9th 2014


3631 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

donno what to think of this yet

PappyMason
October 9th 2014


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

'Between this and Caribou my end of year list might actually have an electronic album on it somewhere.'



Really man? So many great ones have been released over recent years.

ChoccyPhilly
October 9th 2014


11590 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeeeeaaaaah, agreed on the rating. Probably my favourite FlyLo record

Digging: Lapalux - Ruinism

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 9th 2014


32190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

So go chronologically?




Yeah, might as well. Or start with LA, and then check out 1983 (his debut) afterwards



A random assortment of tracks:



GNG BNG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOxracqXSXk

Disco Balls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHXp1u7mTUw

Zodiac Shit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtjZOf0WmdE

Do The Astral Plane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usPvclHwZ5E



And for GTAV fans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G14Gx2kCd9w

frigyourgenre
October 9th 2014


3631 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is probably my least fav next to 1983 but LA and cosmo are killer albums

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 9th 2014


32190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

LA

Cosmo

1983

This

UTQC

AmericanFlagAsh
October 9th 2014


8656 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"will always be Los Angeles"



See I prefer Cosmogramma and then I think this is his best tbh

Digging: Alvvays - Antisocialites

PappyMason
October 9th 2014


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ha, that 'Stonecutters' tune always brings a smile.

ComeToDaddy
October 9th 2014


1575 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is one hell of a review



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