Steven Ellison may be one of the most inventive musicians of the past decade. Since he burst onto the electronic scene as Flying Lotus in 2006 he’s been bending and breaking listener’s preconceived notions of the genre by seamlessly blending hip-hop with free-form jazz, pop and electronica. Ellison released his first album 1983 in 2006 and within the year was signed to Warp Records. From there FlyLo’s popularity seemed to explode, he began producing most of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim bumper music, collaborated with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and released a handful of mindblowingly complex yet accessible albums.
Ellison is the great nephew of Alice and John Coltrane and has in a similar fashion served as the figurehead for his own genre. His great-uncle helped pioneer and popularize free-jazz while Ellison has served as the gatekeeper for downtempo beat music, crafting seemingly endless soundscapes that ride on stuttering grooves and skittering percussion. But his talents don’t just lie within the studio, after the release of his most recent effort Until The Quiet Comes, Ellison debuted an immersive, layered 3D show that blends scenes from 2001: A Space Oddysey with interactive visual patterns.
I was lucky enough to catch Flying Lotus at Bonnaroo in 2012 and his set was an effortless blend of contemporary DJ stylings, remixing beloved classic hip-hop and dance tracks while implementing his own fan-favorite originals. However, his less “party oriented” shows tend to involve much more of his own heady beats, showcasing the brilliant production on display within his work. Chest-rattling bass and mind-bending visuals make for a visceral viewing experience that absolutely can’t be missed.
Flying Lotus will perform at The Orangel Peel on Wednesday, April 24 at 12:00 am.