Flying Lotus had built up a strong underground following by the time his third album, 2010′s Cosmogramma, was ready for release. The title basically means “cosmic drama,” and FlyLo (real name Steven Ellison) wanted to convey that idea in the music. He’s also really conscious of his own creative evolution, and reporters never fail to mention that his aunt was Alice Coltrane, the wife of legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. I think it always comes up because John Coltrane’s work also embodies a certain creative evolution that is often called “spiritual.”
Ellison is open about his experiments with DMT (he blogged about it on MySpace) and mescaline, as well as lucid dreaming and out-of-body experiences (OOBEs). His song “1983,” from the 2006 album of the same name, brought him early attention for its use on Adult Swim’s promos (here’s a newer one from this January, containing a clip from Cosmogramma). He’s also praised for his style that’s reminiscent of classic video game sounds from the 8-bit NES era (and the video below even contains a video game-style segment).
This music video is for the song “MmmHmm (feat. Thundercat),” which, as you can see from the still shot, features the symbol of the Tao, more commonly known as “yin and yang” in the West. There’s no overt suggestion of meaning, but the symbol also suggests the “union of opposites”—an idea that is prevalent throughout all major mythologies and religions of the world. Plus, the characters in the video are a male Native American in headdress and a female Cannabis Sativa plant. The blending of all elements suggests an end of dualism between plant and animal, man and woman, cosmos and psyche, reality and video games (or virtual reality), etc.
So cheers to Flying Lotus for creating some of the most mind-expanding music (and music videos) of 2010! (By the way, his video for the song “Kill Your Co-Workers,” from the EP Pattern+Grid World, is equally stunning.)
- Flying Lotus Performs Live Score for ‘Heaven & Earth Magic’ (April 2, 2010)
- Mind-Expanding Music from 2010, part 1: Gold Panda (January 25, 2011)
- Mind-Expanding Music from 2010, part 3: Teengirl Fantasy (January 25, 2011)
- Mind-Expanding Music from 2010, part 2: Emeralds (January 25, 2011)