Flying Lotus aka Steven Ellison now finds himself on album number five and with the world at his feet. What started as a spot of bedroom-based experimentation quickly exploded into a thriving career touring the world super-clubs with a Warp Records deal to boot and a glittering array of vocal collaborators including the likes of Thom Yorke, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar
What’s more, he’s even stepped up to the mic himself and came out with his own hip-hop album Duality two years ago under the alias Captain Murphy – a side show that has developed more and more with Ellison increasingly laying down his own vocals over his productions.
All this, combined with the exciting prospect of Fly Lo’s Hyper Cuber mean that punters are in for one hell of a show. They’re made to wait for it, however. Not because the musicians are late on stage but because of the airport-style security that is inflicted on them by security guards who in a couple of isolated cases are frankly over zealous.
But after having their possessions turned upside down, being frisked and finding themselves on a the end of the third degree, most still enter with a smile on their face. As we enter the main room at Academy One and get into support act Shabazz Palaces, it is immediately clear the contraband busts haven’t been all that successful as a cloud of marijuana smoke sets the fragrance for the evening.
Shabazz Palaces get the crowd going admirably with a bassy dose of experimental hip-hop that burrows into the mind and shakes the foundations of the venue. It’s an ongoing theme as low frequency vibrations act as a kind of anchor for the jazz-inspired sounds that dance around both acts’ output.
Fly Lo arrives to perform behind a set of mesmerising visuals, utilising pulsating strobes and holographic artistry that have everyone open-mouthed.
Material from last year’s You’re Dead provides the centrepiece and there is a huge cheer for ‘Never Catch Me’ – Ellison’s collaboration with Lamar.
A much welcome bonus is also Flying Lotus’ long time partner in crime Thundercat, who is on hand to provide live bass and add an extra dimension to a show that seems like it tips every box from the off.
Flying Lotus is an example of an artist who has managed to shy away from the formulaic and occasionally downright dangerous threats that can come from getting too lost in the world of the pop charts.
Instead he has found the perfect blend of a mind-blowing live spectacle and unrivalled, free artistic expression. Unmissable.