Tag Archives: Flying Lotus
SBTRKT – Terminal 5 – October 27, 2014
Restrained energy perhaps best describes the music the captivated Terminal 5 crowd witnessed last night courtesy of SBTRKT. It was constructed much in the way a wave rolls into its crest, with deliberate forward motion and then unfurling, tumbling over itself as it cascades onto the shore. As if stepping out of a spacecraft wearing his trademark tribal mask, the phantom of electro-soul opera expressed his sonic salutation to the New York City earthlings, greeting them in a convivial British manner along with his strobed-out laser-splashed music from somewhere just outside the stratosphere.
What came across straight away was that SBTRKT commands his own instruments—
and consequently the crowd—deliberately building each movement of a neo-funk symphony through orchestration, elevating each piece to its climactic flourish, adding layer upon layer of percussion loops, further propelled by the accents of the drummer and keyboardist who accompanied him. Just after the first movement, SBRTKT gauged the audience’s temperature, checking to see if everyone was ready to be swept up in his momentous arrangements.
SBTRKT creates epic, soulful soundscapes that hearken back to ’90s R&B that he accentuates with jungle beats and dubstep, and he recruits a diverse assembly of crooners to emphasize his dynamic compositions in the process—a few of whom landed with him last night. This mixture of style and form is most comparable to his American contemporary, Flying Lotus, yet SBTRKT’s individuality is unmistakable, and he demonstrated with reserved confidence why his appeal is expanding. Dancing between his surrounding soundboards and keyboards while eluding the laser beams shooting from the stage behind him, SBTRKT put on a performance that left its intended mark, before jumping back into his spacecraft to look for the next destination and bring new life to the contemporary-music environment. —Charles Steinberg
Flying Lotus – Terminal 5 – October 15, 2014
“I have come to inform you that, you’re fuckin’ dead,” said Flying Lotus last night to a sold-out Terminal 5 crowd, stated in the most matter-of-fact way possible, thus kicking off the all-senses barrage that is a Flying Lotus show. With glowing bright yellow eyes and sitting in the midst of an inverted cube bathed in shape-shifting projections, Flying Lotus provided a symphony of his own creation. Further driving home the afterlife theme, someone dressed as the Grim Reaper menaced the audience for a few songs. But those sounds were not of this world. There was bass so heavy you could not only feel it but also sort of taste it, almost as if Flying Lotus had turned an intensity dial up to 11 and then the dial broke, so he just said, “Fuck it” and left it there.
But there was also a top on this, a weird calming sense of meditative contemplation. And those two things don’t often work together. Some jazz has been able to do it, although it’s rare. But Flying Lotus is related to Coltranes, which may partially explain his mystical musical powers, but to nail it down in a different genre—electronic music—is a noteworthy innovation. Of course, the visuals were extravagant enough to make up half of the show’s overall experience. Think of Flying Lotus’s amazing album covers but always morphing. It was like a trippy three-dimensional stream constantly flowing through the stage, with a mere silhouette pushing buttons, moving dials, throwing his hands up and dancing.
For a few songs, Flying Lotus popped out of the inverted projection cube of awesome to rap a few songs as his alter ego, Captain Murphy, right into the first few rows of audience. After the set ended he returned, saying he’d see some of the crowd on Thursday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. It’s remarkable how trailblazing Flying Lotus’s sound has become, especially in an era when people are racing to find that next big thing, the last morsel of underutilized electronic sounds that could (potentially) change everything. Only recently are others catching up to FlyLo, in a rush to appropriate, integrate and collaborate with that sound he’s pioneered for years. It’s like he’s turned around to ask, “Where have y’all been?” But by the time the rest of the world finally catches up, we may all well be dead. —Dan Rickershauser
José James grew up in Minneapolis, weaned on Prince, hip-hop and modern jazz. Upon moving to New York City to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, James (above, performing “Trouble” for KCRW FM, and, below, covering “Who Loves the Sun” as a tribute to Lou Reed), he eventually met the musicians who would become his first ensemble, backing him in the studio as he recorded his debut, The Dreamer, out in 2008, and touring with him in support of it. James has been in demand ever since, playing festivals around the world and making numerous guest appearances on other musician’s albums (even working with Flying Lotus). But he’s still continued to make his own brand of music—seamlessly mixing electronic, pop and soul sounds with jazz. No Beginning No End (stream it below), James’s fourth album, arrived early this year. About which Pitchfork proclaimed: “With previous releases, he’s earned his heroic acclaim in the tough, tried-and-trusted lanes of contemporary jazz. With No Beginning No End, he’s built his own road out.” And rather than having to go see this unique talent at, say, the Blue Note or Village Vanguard, you can see him tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Take Flying Lotus beats out of headphones or tinny computer speakers and into a club and they become sometime else entirely. On recordings, he is the manufacturer behind chilled-out and jazzy shape-shifting beats. But played live in a jam-packed venue, before a screen with mind-altering visuals and the bass turned up so high that it’s felt in the knees, and you have an almost unfamiliar experience. It’s like comparing a wild tiger to one in the zoo—the setting changes the music in a fundamental way. His natural habitat is the club, where beats can roam free, bouncing off every corner of the venue and sweeping up an audience in the process. So do yourself a favor and step into that natural habit to see Flying Lotus—along with Ultraísta and Thundercat (with a band)—not once but twice: Sunday and Monday at Terminal 5. —Dan Rickershauser
Jennifer Lee grew up in Los Angeles studying classical piano. Ultimately, it didn’t take, but with her love of hip-hop and beatmaking, that background came in handy in helping Lee use live instruments and digital manipulation to craft vast dreamy soundscapes of electronic, R&B and dance beats as TOKiMONSTA. That and her tastemaking abilities led to her being named the No. 1 female DJ in L.A. in 2010 and a place on Flying Lotus’s label, Brainfeeder. The engaging live performer (above, in the video for “Go with It” featuring MNDR) has a new, diverse—but still accessible—second album, Half Shadows, out today on Ultra Music. Come celebrate its release tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg with TOKiMONSTA, Nick Hook, Branchez, Suzi Analogue and special guests.
Tags: Brainfeeder, Branchez, Flying Lotus, Half Shadows, Jennifer Lee, Nick Hook, Preview, Suzi Analogue, TOKiMONSTA, Ultra Music, Video, Webster Hall
Posted in House List, Preview, Video No Comments »
Flying Lotus – Terminal 5 – October 7, 2012
Take Flying Lotus beats out of headphones or tinny computer speakers and into a club and they become sometime else entirely. On recordings, Flying Lotus is the manufacturer behind chilled-out and jazzy shape-shifting beats. But played live in a jam-packed venue with the bass turned up so high that it’s felt in the knees, and you have an almost unfamiliar sound. It’s like comparing a wild tiger to one in the zoo—the setting changes the music in a fundamental way. Flying Lotus’s natural habitat is the club, where beats can roam free, bouncing off every corner of the venue and sweeping up an audience in the process.
It’s safe to say Flying Lotus was in his natural habitat last night at the sold-out Terminal 5. During the few breaks in the set, the crowd serenaded the L.A. producer, celebrating his 28th birthday, with several renditions of “Happy Birthday to You.” Set up behind a screen with mind-altering visuals, for a while all you could make out of Flying Lotus was a silhouette wearing a sequin-covered sweatshirt that reflected the colored projections back like a thousand laser pointers. Playing one song after another, he wove samples ranging from Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” to Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You” into his own beats. After a few songs, he stepped from behind the screen to greet the audience, and after a few more, he invited everyone in his entourage onstage for the night’s most successful rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”
Pop music moves pretty fast these days, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if a year from now Flying Lotus’s beats find their way into a Kanye West sample or something else equally mainstream. The same has happened with so many other producers carrying the banner for a whole new interpretation of club music. If it happens, everyone at last night’s show can say to jealous late adopters that they saw Fly Lo in New York City on his 28th birthday. The show certainly felt like the beginning of a big musician getting bigger, or in the very least, another year older. —Dan Rickershauser
Flying Lotus – The Bowery Ballroom – June 20, 2011
There is what ears are and there is what ears are capable of being. They are organs connected to neural pathways, vehicles for sound. And what they are capable of being is gateways to the divine, messengers for humanity’s greatest gift: music. Those who honor music know its power. Production, with a mind toward the eternal, creates truth, universally recognizable and intoxicatingly beautiful. And ears, fixed upon truth, tap into a boundless well of pleasure.
With a deep interest in sound, both its production and consumption, Brainfeeder’s traveling showcase descended on The Bowery Ballroom last night, attracting a sold-out crowd with sets from the record label’s growing stable of artists. Brainfeeder “began by Flying Lotus,” and the Los Angeles producer’s unique aesthetic guides and unifies the label. His latest album, Cosmogramma, is a veritable masterpiece, merging jazz, hip-hop and electronic music. And Brainfeeder artists, whether subtly or overtly in the case of opener Teebs inserting a segment of Cosmogramma into his mix, see this album as their mission statement.
Flying Lotus, joined by jazz keyboard prodigy Austin Peralta and budding bass phenomenon Thundercat, appeared late into the night. When the trio relaxed into a groove, the result captured the spirit of J Dilla meeting acid jazz. But even though Flying Lotus is one to pay homage to greats, he also embraces his own identity—weaving Lil Wayne remixes among original works and a silly song about DMT. Never mind his oft-repeated half-apology, “I have no idea where I’m going with that shit.” After four hours of incredible, largely improvised music from the Brainfeeder collective, spontaneity and creativity were pleasure to the ears. —Jared Levy
Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg
Battles/!!!/Flying Lotus/Pivot – Terminal 5 – September 4, 2009
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the record label Warp, which brought you electronic bands like Aphex Twin and LFO, is hosting parties around the world. For the lone Warp20 event in North America, the label pulled out all the stops to showcase some of its best contemporary artists. Friday night’s show at Terminal 5—a small festival’s worth of music packed into six hours—was a testament to Warp’s longevity and eye for talent. Each act pushed the next to elevate its performance. Pivot’s U.S. debut was met with enthusiasm and excitement. But Flying Lotus’s set was a tour de force. With a laptop, sampler and mixer, he deftly navigated bass-driven beats with seamless transitions. The crowd relentlessly showered praise on him, and Flying Lotus, in turn, showed his appreciation by performing the only encore of the night.
!!! (pronounced: chk chk chk) followed with a high-energy performance that featured lead singer Nic Offer venturing into the crowd to boogie down. With a tight horn-and-percussion section, the band delivered its signature brand of dance-punk to a mosh-pit-motivated audience. The final act of the night, the experimental-rock group Battles, which burst onto the indie-music scene with its 2007 debut album, Mirrored, played its first North American date in 2009. The band’s highly anticipated show drew a packed crowd, including David Byrne. With a wall-of-sound amp set up, the group created an industrial stage aesthetic that complemented its unique approach of utilizing multiple electronic instruments and pedals. The set list included new songs (one of which featured a harmonic riff that compelled Byrne to dance reminiscent of his moves in the Talking Head’s Stop Making Sense) and favorites like the sprawling single “Atlas.” We can only hope that Warp hosts many more anniversary parties to come. —Jared Levy
Photos courtesy of Greg Notch | photography.notch.org/music
Stellar indie record label Warp began in Sheffield, England, in 1989. The founders chose the name Warp because they deemed Warped Records to be too difficult to distinguish on the phone. The label was initially the home to electronic bands, like Aphex Twin, LFO and Tricky Disco, but eventually moved on to a more eclectic roster, including the DJ Andrew Weatherall, alternative hip-hop group Antipop Consortium, Brooklyn’s own Grizzly Bear and dub-and-jazz influenced Red Snapper. Twenty years later, Warp is as strong as ever, and to prove it, they’re celebrating this anniversary with Warp 20 one-off live events around the world, including one at Terminal 5 tomorrow night. So get your Labor Day weekend started right by coming out to see Battles, !!!, Flying Lotus and Pivot.
(Check out Battles, above, playing “Atlas,” the second song off their debut full-length album, Mirrored, on Later! With Jools Holland.)