There are two things that I regularly think about when I think about the profound amorphous soul stylings of Steven Ellison a/k/a Flying Lotus. The first is a quote by Robert Glasper, in which he lambasted the state of jazz in 2012: “If [Col]trane came back to life right now he’d be mad as hell if people were still doing the exact same thing he was doing when he died.” Very cosmically, FlyLo–a direct relative of Alice Coltrane–released one of the most stylistically challenging jazz/hip-hop albums of the decade months after that statement. This sequence of events solidified the idea that Flylo is the jazz artist of our hyper digital age, incorporating the sounds of his forbears, while also making blitzed out, Space Age age sounds that we never thought could have existed.
The second thing that I think about is Sun Ra’s “Rocket Number Nine Take Off For The Planet Venus”, a frantic, skittering piece by the afrofuturist and intergalactically obsessed jazz icon. Though his approach to jazz borrows palpably from bebop and the staccato piano fits of Thelonius Monk, his conceptual and narrative threads always leaned toward the future or to a distant location or plane we had not been privileged to see yet.
Much is the same with how Flying Lotus creates and thinks about sound, both sonically and conceptually–he has an album coming out that is f-cking called YOU’RE DEAD and it deals with spiritual ramifications of a place we have never been but will eventually see. When I put on “Coronus, The Terminator” I hear the jazz of the future: a weird amalgamation of what we’ve done and where we are going. In short, Rocket Number Nine finally landed on the planet Venus.