Flying Lotus has been on a steady upward curve since his debut album, 1983, dropped a half-decade ago. In that period, Steven Ellison has ascended through the ranks, blossoming from talented beatmaker beginnings into a producer so utterly in control of his sonic hyperreality, entering it leaves you powerless, breathless and enthralled.
Fans flocked to the Roundhouse on Saturday, a steady hum of anticipation wafting around the venue as it began to fill to capacity. Warmup duties were bestowed to two men of great versatility, the sheer hip hop of Kutmah going down smoothly after the ever-changing heavy-skitter ride of Martyn.
Drops in the ocean compared to what followed though, Flying Lotus emerging on stage shortly after to rapturous applause from the crowd. The backdrop was a thrilling disarray, an endless parade of hyperactive textures by AntiVJ, that deviated from a departure point that was equal parts hyperspace, equal parts Matrix style construct.
This pathway between the ultimate and the metaphysical was then opened up, resulting in total immersion in an audiovisual spectacle par excellence. Triangles fluttered as the construct flickered in and out of filmy focus, lazers slivers of gentle cyan throbbed as straw became wire then wound back into nothing again. In the thick of it, Fly-Lo was rendered practically translucent, his white shirt acting as the perfect foil, grinning ear-to-ear whilst dropping the likes of Kanye West, Lil Wayne and this dubstep monster. Spectral cuts from Cosmogramma & Los Angeles swept in and out of the mix, ‘Camel‘ in particular mutating into a slow-burn euphoric stomp. Natural rises in the sonic intensity were matched punch for punch by the visuals, the triangles unravelling into a technicolour joyride hurtling through a cosmic city. ‘Do The Astral Plane‘ was his parting shot, scatting and spitting as the giddy jubilant groove exploded magisterially, smattered with silken strings and firefly beat flecks.
The startling thing about this performance was that Fly-Lo gave off the impression that he wasn’t content, that he still had a lot more to give. I can’t wait to see how he continues to move up through the gears.