It doesn’t take a long listen to Flying Lotus’ music to know that he plays by his own rules. The Los Angeles-based musician/producer/composer has always maintained a balance of mind-bending progressive soundscapes and playful eccentricities. His fifth album, You’re Dead! is no exception, immediately solidifying itself as perhaps his most concept-driven and sonically expansive record to date. In what was originally planned as a full on jazz album, You’re Dead! evolved into an expression of the feelings and instincts surrounding mortality. It is a recurrent topic of artistic exploration but this album provides a perspective on death that could only come from Flying Lotus.

10660329_10152360794898857_1943065348597544222_nAlong with being musically dense and at times intense, especially given the subject matter, Flying Lotus a.k.a. Steven Ellison maintains his signature playfulness throughout You’re Dead! Even though there is an undeniable sense of gravitas to the program, we are presented with a refreshingly honest portrayal of the different aspects of mortality, not all of which are morbid. It’s as if he is not considering death so much in the literal physical sense, but as a means for personal (and perhaps metaphysical) transition and evolution.

Much like Flying Lotus’ previous works, You’re Dead! has a seemingly cinematic scope and flowing narrative. Each track says something unique and while the music is often sprawling and eclectic, every note on the album is unified. One of Flying Lotus’ areas of mastery is his blending of electronic programming and samples with live instruments, which gives the music an unending human heartbeat and soul through every note. The live band of drummer Deantoni Parks, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, and frequent collaborator and bass master Thundercat embody the Flying Lotus sound and drive the album’s momentum. Thundercat’s fingerprints in particular are felt all over the record with his quirky and fiery delivery. The guests on You’re Dead! which include keyboard legend Herbie Hancock, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Angel Deradoorian, Niki Randa, and even Flying Lotus’ rapping alter ego Captain Murphy, provide splashes of variance under the umbrella of the album’s artistic vision.

From the opening cosmic drone of “Theme” to the hopeful, resilient vocal chants in “The Protest,” Flying Lotus offers stimulating music whether someone is listening with the concept in mind or just taking in the masterful grooves and musicianship. Lamar’s feature “Never Catch Me” showcases the rapper’s slippery delivery and thoughtful writing over a driving beat defined by a haunting piano riff and drums that seem ready to explode at any moment. The second half of the song takes a spacey turn with Thundercat’s prominent bass in a sequence that was apparently originally called “Ramen Wars.” Snoop Dogg’s slinky delivery feels right at home on the bubbly beat of “Dead Man’s Tetris.” With its aggressively slow groove, “Siren Song” is one of the more ethereal tracks on the album. The song opens itself up for Deradoorian’s airy vocals, which come off as just another ingredient in Flying Lotus’ futuristic sound cauldron. Thundercat’s peculiar personality and playing style is perhaps featured the most on the aptly titled “Descent into Madness,” with its angular and tonally ambiguous melody and eerie production.


As if it wasn’t clear from his previous four albums, You’re Dead! reconfirms the fact that nobody but Flying Lotus can do what he does. He is a musician who is constantly pushing music forward, all while avoiding simple genre associations. Without an overabundance of lyrics on the album, one can’t help but notice a definitive story being told. The music seems to laugh in the face of death and the unknown, reminding us that maybe it’s silly to speculate so fearfully about metaphysical mysteries that will never be answered. What is clear from You’re Dead! is Flying Lotus’ belief that we will always follow our own path and we will never die. In his own words, “Our influence lives on forever. Our love lives on Forever.”

Flying Lotus performs Monday, October 20 with Thundercat at the Société des arts technologiques [SAT]. Doors open at 8 p.m., $30.

For all of Montreal’s fans of beat-making, hip-hop, R&B, house, and electronic music, it would be unwise to be anywhere but Le Belmont this Friday. The 25-year-old English producer Lapalux will be performing as part of a month-long North American tour, bringing his boundary-pushing yet accessible brand of music to Montreal for a rare appearance that is surely not to be missed.

Born Stuart Howard, the Essex native is riding momentum from his debut album Nostalchic, released earlier this year on Flying LotusBrainfeeder record label. Lapalux’s music defies simple categorization, being all at once somber, soulful, abstract, unsettling, and beautiful.


There is an undeniable sense of care and thought that goes into every note in Lapalux’s repertoire, and listening to his music can incite deep self-reflection. Without complex lyrical content, he urges the listeners to look inward and speculate about life, love, and dance.

Lapalux’s atmospheric soundscapes capture the solemnity and heart of every day life and their constant intersections. These themes are put on display in the recent short film Chrysalis by Nick Rutter which is scored by Lapalux.


Compared with other artists of similar styles, Lapalux stands alone as one whose music carries a distinct weight. It is not simply party music, though it will make you move. Each song voices a statement, even if it is heard through our subconscious. Simply put, this is music that must be heard.

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Lapalux will be playing at Le Belmont Friday, September 13, and will be supported by Construct, Bus, and Sibian & Faun.