Flying Lotus, “You’re Dead!”
Look at that exclamation point. Who could possibly be excited about dying in 2014?, you may rightfully ask. It doesn’t take long to find out. Los Angeles beatmaster Flying Lotus opens You’re Dead! with a blanket of noise worthy of Tim Hecker’s pyrrhic Virgins. It spins slowly, drawing in bands of tension and dread, then suddenly bursts into bobbles of fretless bass and intermittent machine-gun drumming, and when it finally makes room for clashing cymbals and gentle harmonies, you may as well have been under sedation for how simple and welcoming the entire transition has been. It takes ninety seconds to get acclimated. Welcome to the afterworld!
From there, FlyLo trips freely through free-jazz workouts and big-beat hip-hop, operating blissfully ignorant of any boundary between the two. In the show-stopping “Never Catch Me,” he pushes his beat so hard against guest Kendrick Lamar that the two may as well be trading verses; sounds swell until it seems like the album could burst even a good pair of headphones and leak down your ear. Later, as it settles into its surroundings and eventually trickles to a close, You’re Dead! leaves exuberance behind for an arresting reverence that’s equal parts accepting and mournful. But it never loses the beat at its center.