‘Experimental’ is a word that by definition should mean you have no idea what to expect from music. If it’s experimental, it should be trying something new that you’ve never heard before. But that doesn’t stop me having very definable preconceptions about a band or artist when I hear that word used to describe them. I straight away think of bullshit like Bjork. But I need to be more open minded, and see the unexpectedness of experimental as its greatest strength. Because if I chose to ignore anyone with that title, as I usually do, I would have missed Flying Lotus and You’re Dead!
Experimental jazz fusion, with a schizophrenic, A.D.D, vide. Songs like Theme and Tesla are a bizarre mess. But they’re obviously very meticulous messes. Maybe it’s all a massive con job and Flying Lotus took a collection of outtakes, disconnected improvisations and cock ups, then just threw them into a multi track editor and let the computer do the rest, but there’s something about the opening suite, up to and including Fkn Dead, that seems free form and calculated at the same time.
But after those four tracks of anarchy, I was ready of the structure of Never Catch Me. The music might still be just as eclectic, but the rapping of Flying Lotus gives this song, and by association, the opening minutes of You’re Dead! more shape. Shape that it was sorely needing before this point.
Then it’s time to moosh together dark synths, darker rhymes and an almost nursery rhyme approach to melody for Dead Man’s Tetris. It’s the kind of song that makes me think music is Flying Lotus’ outlet for his demons, so he can save money on therapy. It sounds like he’s getting something off his chest that might have sent him crazy if it stayed bottled up.
The middle section gets back into the structureless, improv sounding cacophony of seemingly random sounds. And by this stage, with the hindsight of the more hip hop orientated tracks, I have less patience for the meandering, anything goes. So when the slow jam vocals of Coronus, the Terminator kick in, it was an immediate relief.
There’s no point getting into specifics about the rest of You’re Dead!, because it’s all just as perplexing, interesting, infuriating and compelling as everything else I’ve written about above. My opinion bounced around more than the musical approaches jumbled together by Flying Lotus.
It takes real balls to release a mess of sounds and a call them songs. I’m not saying I didn’t like the crazier moments of You’re Dead! Or that I think they’re nothing more than a mess of sounds, but Flying Lotus obviously isn’t going for mainstream success with this album. There’s a thin line between genius, insanity and just having a musical wank. You’re Dead! spends 38 minutes pissing on every side of those thin lines. And while I might not like many individual songs on it, I do appreciate the hubris.