Author: Alice Alexeeva
Steven Ellison, more commonly known by his stage name Flying Lotus, comes to Madison’s Sylvee this upcoming Wednesday on his Flamagra North American Tour. The show will be centered around FlyLo’s latest album, Flamagra, which was much anticipated following the success of 2014 album You’re Dead! On the day Flamagra was announced, the first single off the album, “Fire Is Coming” featuring David Lynch, was released alongside a video. The single could hardly be considered a song considering its ambient instrumental with David Lynch speaking over it, creating quite the internet stir since this is the first single Flying Lotus has released in 5 years (a comment on the YouTube video that sums this up well: “Only Flying Lotus has the balls to drop his first single in over 5 years and it’s an interlude.”) Despite the humor(/shock?,) the track and its video were well received and raised anticipation for the “fire” that would be coming. A month later, “More” featuring Anderson .Paak was released as a track with a video directed by Shinichiro Watanabe–both the song and the video were stylistically and conceptually different from “Fire Is Coming.” The sound is reminiscent of FlyLo’s prior album You’re Dead! with an upbeat tempo pairing with .Paak’s charming, raspy vocals. The video reminded me much more of FlyLo’s prior videos for Zodiac Sh*t and Putty Boy Strut due to its animated style. However, this video stands out because of Watanabe’s direction–a director who is behind Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy, and other prominent anime works. These two singles and their videos set the bar high for the upcoming album. A week following “More,” Flamagra was released onto all platforms. The album featured 27 songs with 10 features totaling to a duration of just over an hour. FlyLo blended the dynamic sounds heard in “Fire Is Coming” and “More” with his characteristic jazz-funk production and features ranging from Solange to Toro y Moi to Thundercat. While perhaps not as revolutionary as You’re Dead!, Flamagra showcases the artist’s range in sound and has no lack in talent. Furthermore, Flying Lotus has been surprising crowds across North America with his performance of the album. Perhaps the most notable element of the tour is the 3D visual element–similar to 3D movies, audience members will be handed 3D glasses at the venue.
The emphasis Flying Lotus places on visuals is no surprise when you look back on his LA film background and his short film projects, so his incorporation of 3D visuals during a live music show should lead to quite the Steven Ellison experience. FlyLo has also been bringing out some of Flamagra’s featured artists, including Thundercat at his Portland show. It will be interesting to see what surprise he has in store for Madison, and how well the show will come together at The Sylvee (which has hosted artists from Alison Wonderland & Dillon Francis to Noname.) Overall, I’m excited to see the man whose music I listened to back when I still had an iPod Touch so there’s really no way that Flying Lotus can disappoint me.