Flying Lotus: Yasuke album review
Midnight movies and anime have long played a pivotal role in the aesthetic world of Flying Lotus. Now, between the newly formed film division of his label Brainfeeder, numerous music projects and his foray into directing with the animated feature film Kuso, the artist born Steven Ellison is essential more and more in the cinema as in the music. It’s a natural development for an artist who cites the influence of Shinya Tsukamoto’s grimy cyberpunk body horror nightmare Tetsuo: The Iron Man as often as it does for a given musician. The man started to compose Adult Swim bumpers, after all.
Ellison recently contributed the original music for two anime productions: a Blade Runner 2049 short prequel anime and series Carole and Tuesday. He makes his anime debut with Yasuke, a new Netflix series, hosted by Japanese studio MAPPA, which spins a wild cosmic thread based on the mysterious historical case of a real black samurai during the time of the much-romanticized shogunate. Although the protagonist is based on a real figure from the 16th century, the show is not limited to a medieval setting: the action is loaded with overpowered mecha, sojourns through time, trippy battle sequences and sinister priests. Catholics. Credit Yasuke Designer LeSean Thomas, who made a name for himself early on at Adult Swim – just like Flying Lotus – with these innovations before moving to South Korea and eventually Japan. Thomas looks a lot like the hero of his show: an autonomous and uniquely motivated individual who has carved out a new space for himself in a country and an industry he is not from.
Ellison is rendered as a samurai on the cover of Yasuke soundtrack, even if his sunglasses are too Blade as a medieval knight. It’s hard not to take this image as a metaphor: Like a samurai, Ellison is constantly testing himself and honing his skills. In a recent interview, he describes his emotional connection to Yasuke’s story, both as someone who felt like an outsider in various worlds – a hip-hop producer and electronic DJ branching out into jazz, a musician making films, a David Lynch fan working with David Lynch – and more specifically because of his own experiences in Japan as a black man. An intense and prolific collaborator, Ellison is far from a lonely ronin, but his style remains his. His first records as Flying Lotus are an integral part of the Los Angeles rhythm scene: a whirlwind of psychedelic drum patterns, jazz fusion basslines, and the chirps and clicks of video game soundtracks. Soon he will flesh out that basic model into something even more cosmic and expansive – truly maximalist works inspired by progressive rock and spiritual jazz. Yasuke removes many of those familiar references and molds them into a more minimalist form. Although tracks like “Your Lord” incorporate sparse strings, flutes, and wooden percussion meant to evoke East Asian musical traditions, Ellison is careful to avoid falling prey to common stereotypical tropes. Western Japanese music.
Ellison said he wanted to break away from what one would expect from an anime score from a producer with roots in hip-hop, offering a counterpoint to explicitly beat-oriented soundtracks like those by RZA. Afro samurai or the cult favorite Samurai Champloo, created by Shinichirō Watanabe, regular contributor to Flying Lotus, and with an original soundtrack from the late ancestor of lo-fi beats Nujabes. These shows use hip-hop as a way to break away from the tradition of anime, while Yasuke pays homage to scoring conventions while occasionally incorporating a trap drum effect or mind-blowing synthesizer effect. Ellison’s signals do not overwhelm or outshine the visuals of the series; his synth-driven riffs are often at ease on the sidelines, a series of wavy tones anchoring the emotional movement of a scene.
As her profile grew, Ellison’s albums came to include more vocal features – 2019 Flamagra put Denzel Curry and David Lynch back to back – but guests sometimes distract from the complexity and creativity of his actual compositions. Scoring, however, gives his work leeway to breathe. Thundercat’s right-arm falsetto stars in the protagonist’s theme, “Black Gold,” a moment of dreamy reflection in an often-kinetic action-packed spectacle. Regular collaborator Niki Randa adds an angelic tenor to the string introspection of “Hiding in the Shadows” and the trip-hop of “Between Memories”.
Flying Lotus lines often have a vintage, self-aware sound, from bubbling Moog tones reminiscent of Jean-Jacques Perrey and Wendy Carlos on “Shoreline Sus” to Vangelis and John Carpenter-type beats on “Pain and Blood” and “War Lords” “. . »Although many Yasuke is shaped by synthesizers, it is only natural for the drums to begin to dominate during combat sequences, like the tablas and timpanis of “Fighting Without Honor,” a burst of jerky percussion that resonates as talented warriors perform. stand up. Ellison revolves around hip-hop in his score and sometimes walks away from it altogether, but here and there he kisses it: “Mind Flight” culminates in trap hats, and “Survivors” is a boom-bap cut meant for YouTube Rainy -day study playlists. The lonely rap verse comes from Denzel Curry on “African Samurai”, which asserts itself to a sparse and trembling beat.
Taken into consideration alongside Ellison’s growing body of animated works, Yasuke illuminates the kinship between the musical and visual instincts of Flying Lotus. Much like Thomas synthesizes a pocket-sized sci-fi and fantasy mecha with medieval Japanese history, Ellison’s universe is built from jazz riffs, new-age synth noodles, hip-hop drums. and sounds from the many, many anime he has ingested over the years. , all brought together in a coherent framework. In YasukeSelf-aware hybrid genre approach, Ellison finds himself well paired with a like-minded visual artist who imagines new worlds and alternate timelines. Flying Lotus finally asks us to consider electronic music in equally fantastic terms: why limit ourselves to a style or a school of sound when an infinity of timbres and textures is at hand?
Buy: Brutal trade
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