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Live Review: Flying Lotus

3 February 2015 | 11:46 am | Guido Farnell

Flying Lotus sucked the Melbourne crowd into his audio-visual vortex.

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Flying Lotus and his Australian promoters are running on such a tight schedule today that a seven-hour delay on his flight from Wellington to Melbourne means that he will now start playing at the rave o’clock hour of 1.45am.

With festivities adjourned we rethink our strategy for the evening and decide to retreat and take a disco nap to get us through what will be a long night.

At 1.45am, light washes of synthetic sound can be heard coming from the basement that is 170 Russell. It spins a chill, soothing vibe that calms the faithful fans who are now packed into the venue. FlyLo made it into the country and now, with everything in position, we’re being hyped by an MC. The show starts with an apology before Flying Lotus declares Melbourne the creative pulse of the country. He should know, having graduated from the class of 2006 Red Bull Music Academy that was held in Richmond way back in the day. In the meantime he’s released five instantly classic albums and tonight he is here to show off the latest, You’re Dead.

After the fanfare introduction of Theme, Flying Lotus starts dealing his signature electronic sound that is expansive in its scope absorbing influences as diverse as free jazz and Middle Eastern traditional music. It’s dense, mind-expanding listening that is enhanced by one of the more spectacular light shows currently on offer. A transparent scrim in front of FlyLo catches the video that is projected onto it while a screen behind him features more, back-projected video footage. The effect is a layering of ultra-vivid video imagery that shifts from multi-coloured swirls of smoke to psychedelic mandalas and animations of the strange, manga-esque anatomical drawings being used to promote his latest, fifth studio album. It’s compulsive viewing while only FlyLo’s silhouette can be seen as he busily works a modest amount of technology to produce a hyperactive sound that fluidly shifts and morphs between a multitude of genres and then some. 

At the centre of a swirling vortex he completely sucks us all into the mix, which shifts away from the near-perfection of his recordings to become something a little more rough, raw and immediate. It’s pure audio-visual sensory overload lightened by the occasional banter, like when he acknowledges and praises someone in the crowd for lighting up the wacky tobacky or admonishes another for calling him Steven: “It’s not like you know me or are my dad, dude,” he laughs.

Captain Murphy (FlyLo’s animated rapper alter-ego) makes an appearance as he emerges to rap some rhymes from the rare, vinyl-only Duality album, which now commands premium prices on the second hand market. Flying Lotus talks previous booze and DMT experiences in Melbourne, but genuinely freaks out when a fan hands him something that could be illicit. Flying Lotus is arguably one of the more imaginative electronic music artists doing the rounds and the night ends on a heart-warming, feel-good note as he hangs back to shake the hands of awestruck fans.