LIVE: Flying Lotus x Brainfeeder: A Global Live Stream Extravaganza
Nine o’clock arrives, the on-screen countdown concludes, and the self-described ‘global livestream extravaganza’ kicks off for the second of three showings (the first was nine hours earlier at 9pm Tokyo time, the final instalment would follow at 9pm LA time). There’s no escaping the fact that experiences like this, even after several months, still don’t feel normal. The lights are off, that feels like the right thing to do. Is it ok to watch this essentially lying down? It doesn’t feel ok somehow…
Tonight’s show via Mixcloud Live features Brainfeeder head honcho Flying Lotus and a handpicked selection of label friends and family for an audiovisual experience that promises to “deliver a spectacle traversing the cosmos”. Interspersed between the pre-recorded performances for the evening are music videos from absent members the Brainfeeder roster – Georgia Ann Muldrow, Genevieve Artadi, Wajatta, Dorian Concept, PBDY and more – adding to the sense that this is a family affair and a celebration of more than just the man who helms the label.
Teebs is up first – an artist who recently celebrated a decade since the release of his debut album Ardour – and his half-hour offering playing is suitably delicate, his lush, soothing sounds accompanied by a gothic mise-en-scène; a skull and flickering candles in from of him, black velvet drapes behind. It’s a fairly low-key start to proceedings, easing us all in. “Where are the trippy visuals?” asks somebody in the chat. If that’s what they paid their money to see, they won’t end the night disappointed, but they will have to wait a while longer.
Next up is a selection of cosmic jazz and infectious grooves from the endearingly dorky band of musician, composer and planetary scientist Salami Rose Joe Louis. The rich tones of the tenor saxophone are particularly pleasing, wielded by Eli Malawan dressed head-to-toe in a low-budget Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume (Michelangelo, for those wondering).
Brandon Coleman follows, embracing his inner George Clinton for a funk-heavy performance with a distinct west-coast feel – with keytar, vocoder and wah-wah synths aplenty – before transitioning into some more traditional jazz pianism in the spirit of another of his musical heroes, Herbie Hancock, to close the show.
As anticipation heightens for Flying Lotus to make his appearance, the warped and glitchy 3D-rendered imaging of ‘Loophole’ by Little Snake and Amon Tobin, released at the end of October, service as a fittingly confronting audio-visual experience to lead us into the headline set.
The services of longtime collaborators Timeboy and Strangeloop had been enlisted once again for the visual element of this show, integrating features of the relevant music videos into a characteristically psychedelic collage that not only act as a backdrop or overlay, but also a visual element that interacts with Flying Lotus himself. Sometimes there are palm trees or Venus fly traps, sinister skulls or masked tribespeople, but more often that not the distorting, warping, melting and disintegrating visuals have a decidedly interstellar feel. Aptly, in ‘Zodiac Shit’ the white lines of the animated astrological illustrations – versions of those which appeared in the song’s video a decade ago – play against the glowing blues and blacks of the cosmic backdrop.
Musically, the set draws most heavily from FlyLo’s latest album Flamagra, with outings for ‘Heroes’, ‘Debbie Is Depressed’, ‘Actually Virtual’ and ‘Find Your Own Way Home’ among them, but there’s also room in the set for older favourites from his extensive back catalogue which stretches nearly fifteen years, as well as some previously unheard/unreleased cuts that closer resemble more conventional hip-hop, string-led and replete with 808 claps, than the experimental and psychedelic jazz inflections that pervade much of his musical output.
The brief inclusion of a Soulja Boy edit excepted, there was little in the way of surprises, both in Flying Lotus’ performance and across the night as a whole, but established fans of the recognisable sound, style and visual identity of both Flying Lotus as an artist and the Brainfeeder brand will no doubt have had their expectations more than met, with each act on the bill offering their own distinct take on the ostensibly disparate yet unmistakably interconnected styles of music that the record label has consistently championed over the years.
Flying Lotus doesn't say much across his performance, but he does take to the microphone to pay tribute to good friend and collaborator Mac Miller before playing ‘More’, the song that they made together for Flamagra. It speaks further to the idea that for Flying Lotus, the musicians featured on his projects and on Brainfeeder’s extensive discography are more than just colleagues, they are family.
Check out Brainfeeder's full roster here.