Red Bull Music Academy presents Flying Lotus

As the grandnephew of Alice Coltrane, Steven Ellison was practically born into the hearts of jazz and hip hop lovers worldwide. But his claim to fame transcends his birthright. His singular approach to beat-making has spawned an entire sub-genre of electrified instrumental hip hop, making him one of today’s most influential music makers, period. Check the pulsing hum of twisted beats, the blissed-out soundtracks of outer space computer vistas and the cartoonist’s sense of color, and you can see why he’s been described as “the Jimi Hendrix of our generation.” 2012 was a particularly big year for this LA native and Red Bull Music Academy alumnus, with yet another acclaimed album out on Warp, his rapping debut under the mysterious Captain Murphy moniker, and collaborations ranging from Thom Yorke to Odd Future. Following his sold-out show last October, Flylo brings his “Layer 3” live spectacle back to Terminal 5 for more mind-bending visuals and intergalactic soundscapes. Support comes courtesy of Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich’s new band Ultraísta, Brainfeeder cohort Thundercat and 2013 Academy participant En2ak.

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Flying Lotus

The music of Flying Lotus—sometimes sun-drenched like a midsummer afternoon in his hometown of Los Angeles, other times disturbingly dark and drawn from the deepest corners of an overfed brain—has won him fans from across the spectrum of modern music (just ask Thom Yorke, Erykah Badu, and Odd Future). Listen for the liquid pulse of unquantized beats and the blissed-out soundtracks of outer-space computer vistas, add in a cartoonist’s sense of color, and you can see why everyone wants his tracks. The BBC even hailed Flying Lotus as “the Jimi Hendrix of our generation.” He’s created groundbreaking albums for Plug Research and Warp, including 2012’s landmark ‘Until The Quiet Comes’ (Warp); collaborated with filmmakers such as Kahlil Joseph and directed his own video projects; played countless free-thinking DJ sets; and released music by like-minded artists such as Daedelus and The Gaslamp Killer on his own label, Brainfeeder—this Academy grad can do no wrong.

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The free-rolling project of Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, and Laura Bettinson, Ultraísta has its roots in afrobeat and krautrock, with plenty of avant pop and dub thrown in for good measure. You’ll have heard Nigel Godrich working the boards on songs by Paul McCartney, Beck, Pavement, and most notably, as a long-running studio member of Radiohead and Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace group. Drummer and all-around beat machine Joey Waronker has worked with a whole host of musical big guns, including Elliott Smith, Johnny Cash, Daniel Johnston, and R.E.M. to name a couple. Together they provide sinuous, organic rhythm tracks for singer Laura to get lost within, as she creates abstract messages with her playful vocals. Named after the Magical Realist literary movement, there’s a certain other-worldly feel to the music of Ultraísta, which appropriately has also been remixed by visionary director David Lynch.

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Since the release of his acclaimed full-length debut, Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, has become a central pillar of the West Coast beat movement. As a bass player trained in jazz and classical, Stephen had already gained an impressive resume by collaborating with all-time greats such as Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, and Stanley Clarke before eventually catching the beat bug. Growing up in a family of drummers, Stephen quickly followed suit. At only 15, he backed the boy band No Curfew and toured Japan with soul legend Leon Ware. He also joined his brother in the rhythm section of funk-fuelled thrash metal legends Suicidal Tendencies. After years of crafting his own music as Thundercat, it still took some coaxing by collaborator and Brainfeeder head honcho Flying Lotus to get those swirling jazz melodies, heavy basslines, and fierce electronica productions into the world. The Golden Age Of Apocalypse, released in 2011, picked up right where FlyLo’s Cosmogramma left off, melding the astrality of Sun Ra with the impact of future bass. He comes to the Academy fresh from putting the finishing touches on his second Brainfeeder full length (again in collaboration with Flying Lotus), due to be released in July of this year.

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The arrhythmic sound of Poland’s En2ak draws directly on his love of classic cut-and-paste music, from DJ Shadow to Coldcut and DJ Vadim. En2ak, sometimes known as Przasnik, and sometimes as Michal Sosnowski, has already released three albums, Celestial Toyroom in 2011, Minerva, Mayhem And Margaritas, and most recently in spring 2013, his third LP, simply titled 3. Proficient on djembe and percussion, his unique brand of chopped-up beat music has carried him to Satta Outside Festival in Lithuania and Picnic Afisha festival in Moscow, as well as numerous shows in his native country. His favorite pastimes include masquerading as a private investigator for hire on Gumtree, and he’s currently learning Klingon. Proof positive that this young b-boy has a truly intergalactic mindset.

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