On his fifth full-length album, FLYING LOTUS has elected to take the listener on a journey through the various Bardos of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In the process he’s delivered a true work of fusion. This filmic and ambitious record is steeped in the virtuosity of jazz and progressive styles, but they are embedded within a framework that keeps things from feeling overly showy or pretentious. The heavy-handed metaphysical concept is treated with levity and joy more often than doom and gloom. The fleeting and complex arrangements really do fly by in a way that mimics the transcendence described by many who have near-death experiences: the sense of knowing and being a part of anything and everything, all at once aned yet unstuck from time completely.
My knowledge of jazz is rather limited, certainly much more so than FLYING LOTUS himself (who is related by blood to John and Alice Coltrane) but something I know a lot about is film scores. Flylo collaborator HERBIE HANCOCK himself has done some amazing ones for films like Death Wish, and this album’s “Turtles” works in a fantastic ENNIO MORRICONE sample. This whole project to me has all the trappings of great scores of the 1970s, updated for the post-hiphop, post-EDM world.
Musical collaborators like THUNDERCAT, DEATHKLOK’s Brendon Small and the aforementioned legendary HERBIE HANCOCK are allowed ample chance to shine, as are vocal collaborators like KENDRICK LAMAR, EARL SWEATSHIRT and SNOOP DOGG, whose supernatural underworld persona here is a wonderful throwback to the classic “Murder Was The Case”. But You’re Dead! is more than just the sum of its parts: the influences and collaborators flow in and out of the mix seamlessly, but that mix is 100% Stephen Ellison. The man has a vision. What more can you say?
You’re Dead! is available now from Warp Records.