Flying Lotus is, without a doubt, the most important electronic musician working today. I don’t say this often about artists who aren’t classical composers, but the man is a genius. Everything the Los Angeles producer touches is infused with his sticky, funky essence, from his brilliant run of solo records to his collaborations with other important artists of today such as Kendrick Lamar, MF DOOM, and Madlib.
In addition to his music, Flying Lotus has spent the past few years advancing his career as a filmmaker. His full-length debut, Kuso, has been one of the most controversial movies of the year. Many critics have bashed the film for being more of a multimedia collection of body horror than a linear narrative of any sort. This might sound like some people’s idea of hell, but I, the horror movie buff that I am, had been wanting to see it for a while, so when I heard that Flying Lotus was coming to First Avenue for a 3D show (complete with Flying Lotus™ 3D glasses!), I bought a ticket as soon as I could. Other than the fact that I love Flying Lotus’ music with all of my heart, I really wanted to see some of this movie that had everyone so freaked out—and in 3D no less!
The visual aspect of the show ended up being a lot more Blade Runner and a lot less Where the Dead Go to Die than I expected, but it was still a lot of fun. The 3D was utilized to its fullest extent, with the imagery having a remarkable amount of visual depth to it. The subject matter generally consisted of endless neon tunnels and glimmering, floating orbs of light, which sounds a lot less cool on paper than it actually was in real life. I suppose you could call this type of thing typical fare in terms of psychedelic visuals, but the whole affair was executed in such a striking manner that it didn’t even come within seventy-thousand light-years of “typical”. As far as I’m concerned, stuff like this doesn’t always need to have some sort of “deeper meaning” attached to it. As long as the experience manages to remove me from everyday life and transport me to someplace mysterious and extraordinary, it’s done its job. In a recent Pigeons and Planes interview, FlyLo himself said that the purpose of the show was to make people “feel like there’s still some magic in this world that they haven’t seen yet.” Anyway, everyone in the audience certainly seemed to enjoy it (every time an especially impressive visual came up on the screen, everybody started cheering like Flying Lotus had just played a crazy guitar solo or something. I think it’d be kinda funny if people did that in movie theaters.)
As far as the music went, Flying Lotus ended up straying far from the jazzy, cerebral IDM that I usually expect out of him. Early on in his set, he stepped out from behind his little slime pulpit/laptop stand to voice his admiration for the club’s sound system, grinning like a little kid who’d just been presented with a particularly elaborate Super Soaker with which to wreak havoc. Towards the end of his set, FlyLo seemed determined to push the limits of the sub-bass as far as the speakers would let him (even now, a full day after the show, my eardrums are still buzzing.) If Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music was intended for people that enjoyed the sound of “pure guitar”, this was music for lovers of pure bass. What he was doing didn’t conform to any particular genre; he was simply having fun with sound for the sake of sound. I suppose some would dismiss this type of performance as self-indulgent, but when the artist in question is a creative force as powerful as FlyLo, at a certain point, they can essentially do no wrong. I bet he could fold his laundry on stage for an hour and a half and it’d still be a beautiful artistic statement.
Seeing Flying Lotus live in 3D was truly a once in a lifetime experience. The show was a total assault on the senses, executed in the best way possible. As long as there are artists of his caliber around, there will still be magic left in the world.