Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Flying Lotus – The Troxy, London 16/11/12

20 November 2012, 10:52 | Written by El Hunt

Photograph by Howard Melnyczuk.

Flying Lotus is a perfectionist; you only have to listen to his latest album to hear his microscopically focused attention to detail. Steven Ellison had plans for a huge knees-up in Brixton Academy – an all-nighter not only about his own music, but a platform for other artists on his Brainfeeder label. When it became clear that not all of his close-knit team could make it, Fly Lo didn’t put on a half-baked night, oh no. In fact you’d imagine Ellison would rather not bother at all than invest his energy in something that feels soulless. “When we do a Brainfeeder all-nighter in London, we all need to be in there. If we’re gonna do it, we are gonna do it right,” he said, with the casual air of someone who has a vision. Moving his album launch show to the art-deco grandeur of The Troxy – a perfect match for the jazz-infused sound that propels Until The Quiet Comes– Flying Lotus is still determined to put on a spectacle, though.

It’s a very strange experience walking into The Troxy, largely because it feels so theatrical. Opulent sunburst panels adorn every wall, and sweeping staircases and decadent fan patterned carpets lead the way to a grand, high-reaching ceiling hung with chandeliers. It feels as if Jay Gatsby has thrown one of his lavish parties in West Egg; except tonight we’re in Stepney instead, and the entertainment on offer is not the jazz of roaring America, but Flying Lotus and his innovative take on electronic production.

Flying Lotus has been busy dreaming up creative approaches to staging – aided by a few mates from the closely-knit Brainfeeder family- and his latest scheme, Layer 3, forms the backdrop for tonight. At first it looks like nothing more than a white projector screen. The crowd goes wild in anticipation at the mere appearance of a torch behind it, and the silhouette of Ellison tinkering with the equipment is visible. The lights dim, before a solitary and almightily crunking sound echoes throughout. It would appear Fly Lo is having a few problems with his set up. Shadows continue to rush around busily, with the air of a magician preparing an elaborate magic trick. Once proceedings get back on track, the extra wait is well worth it. Layer 3 is a complete treat, and does, at times, feel like something very magical.

As the set hits full swing, and the likes of ‘All In’ and ‘Putty Boy Strut’ blitz the room, the bass is so loud that the glass diamonds of the chandeliers above must be chiming together. Steven Ellison has the incredible skill of making intricate switches in BPM and tempo warp and meld effortlessly into one daze. During ‘Zodiac Shit’ the space onstage transforms into nebula galaxies, geometric shapes form the letters ‘Flying Lotus’ before dissipating into cosmic explosions that seem to set the decks alight. Tonight feels like far more than a producer playing his latest album; the set is an experience. All of Fly Lo’s diverse material sits comfortably at ease together, but it’s no surprise whatsoever. Until The Quiet Comes is build upon a lattice of horrendously complex jazz rhythms, yet Ellison makes it seem so simple. In The Troxy, a genius venue selection, it does feel like we’ve been plonked slap-bang-wallop into the smoky, exciting, relentless era of free jazz, but made fit for a modern landscape.

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