Premature Evaluation: Flying Lotus You’re Dead!

October 4, 2014 1:31 AM

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Full disclosure: I am not exactly well-versed in the deep, labyrinthine history of jazz music. Sure, I know my Mingus from my Monk, my Coltrane from my Coleman, but I can’t speak on the lineage of Blue Note Records or tell you which tiny, smoke-filled New York clubs were “the place to be” for jazz in the ’50s and ’60s. I can’t tell you why one particular session of improvisational free jazz is better or worse than another, nor what makes Kind Of Blue somehow even slightly superior to Blue Train. But here’s what I can tell you: I like jazz — well, I like certain kinds of jazz. If pressed to give you a favorite classic jazz album, I’d probably say Miles Davis’ On The Corner, because that is straight-up bonkers music and it grooves like crazy. In the modern sphere, I think Tortoise is one of the all-time greats, and those post-rock pioneers do jazz work unlike anyone else around. (TNT is a necessary record for any lover of instrumental music, jazz or otherwise.) And Squarepusher’s Music Is Rotted One Note is an unprecedented collection of mutant, quasi-electronic jazz, with producer/musician Tom Jenkinson delivering two virtuosic live performances on drums and bass.

I can also tell you that I like Flying Lotus, but I fell in love with him well before he became interested in jazz. After his early flirtations with sci-fi-indebted beatmaking on 1983, the Southern Californian born Steven Ellison honed a sound that would come to define not only his production style ...

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