The album opens with “Theme”, a dark, fast-paced instrumental that introduces the listener to the dangerous, intricate environment of the album through its ominous intro, over-the-top drums and erratic saxophone. The next three songs “Tesla”, “Cold dead” and “Fkn dead”, although quite short, serve as a prelude to the longest and most important track on the album: “Never catch me”. Flying Lotus enlists the help of lyricist Kendrick Lamar on this track to explore the idea of death, fusing rap with his experimental jazz production. The rapper talks about how most people just want to live and not die, and how he looks forward to death, overcoming his initial fear of the afterlife by embracing the inevitability of death. The tracks “Descent into madness” and “The boys who died in their sleep” develop on the motif of death, with the former song creating a feeling of hopelessness, and the latter song exploring the consequences of overdosing on pills.

Although Flying Lotus has put together a collection of creative and atmospheric tracks, the album is not without fault. The track “Dead man’s tetris”, featuring Snoop Dogg, fails to merge with the rest of the album due to sub-standard production and a sub-par verse from the guest artist.

The album closes off with the track “The protest” which Flying Lotus believes is “the most important statement of the record”, due to its powerful statement of how we will never die because our influence and love will live on forever.

Flying Lotus has created a cohesive and distinctive album that haunts the listener with its dark themes and production. It may be hard to digest at first, but an album this elaborate and prolific will only reveal its secrets after multiple plays.

Image:pitchfork.com

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