Flying Lotus

‘I want outrageous ideas’    


Playlist Spawning hip-hop, a view with a shroom and big brass: Flying Lotus’s top five jazz albums

Flying Lotus: You're Dead!


Flying Lotus’s second album, Los Angeles, is a masterpiece of crackly jazz samples, nervy computer game sounds and stuttering hip-hop beats from a drum machine smoking a joint. Released in 2008, it shook up electronic music. Hordes of young musicians copied his psychedelic style while stars like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Snoop Dogg and Herbie Hancock outed themselves as fans.

The latter two appear on his sixth and latest album, You’re Dead!, a bleak, conceptual album about death featuring electronic fusion jazz from the future. The 31-year-old Californian, whose passport shows to be Steven Ellison, told The Red Bulletin about the jazz albums that get him jazzed.

1) Weather Report: Sweetnighter

“I discovered this album 10 years ago, not long before I started putting out records. I’ve probably listened to it a million times since then because it features one of my favourite tracks of all time, Manolete. It’s so funky and cool; just such a vibe, man. And the beat feels so hip-hop, years before hip-hop had even arrived.”

2) Miles Davis: In a Silent Way

“Miles played the trumpet like a guy who didn’t like to smile. He had this sort of, ‘Nah, f––k you all.’ This album in particular captures the essence of that moody loner vibe. He has the sound of the observer; I love that about it. It’s one of the first jazz albums to feature the Rhodes electric piano, which is one of my favourite instruments.”

3) Alice Coltrane: Lord of Lords

“This album, by my great-aunt, is very influential to what I do. It came out not long after her husband John Coltrane died. I was exposed to her music at a young age, but the first moment I really felt I understood her music was when I tried mushrooms for the first time. I was like, ‘Wow, she saw that stuff already.’ She knows what’s behind the curtain.”

4) Soft Machine: Volume 2

“Strictly speaking this isn’t jazz, it’s progressive rock, but I’ve got to include it because it’s one of my favourite albums of all time. It’s a straight listen, everything blends and ties together, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve with You’re Dead!. The ideas are outrageous. The lyrics are wacky, but musically it’s just so amazing.”

5) Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

“It feels like a stage play because Mingus’s sound is so theatrical, there’s so much drama. I love that in jazz solos. Once the instrumentalist gets going, my thoughts begin to drift. I think about life and death. And then I come back again and I’m like, ‘Damn!’ That’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to take you places.”

High end; mighty

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