Flying Lotus, aka Steven Ellison (Photo / Simon Fernandez)
Lined up across the stage, left to right, are: a drum kit, a harp, another drum kit, a saxophone, a six-string bass guitar, a laptop, a violin, a piano. A little after 9.30pm, the troupe of musicians come onto the stage, take up their instruments, and tilt into a frenzied performance that would seem largely improvised if one weren't already versed in the music of Flying Lotus.
How to define the style? 'Electronica' or 'dubstep' seem an insult to the musicians, whose virtuosity is matched by the strict discipline they show. Individual songs threaten to fly apart at any moment; haunting, lush waves from the harp clash with frenzied sax solos. On Nose Art, bassist Stephen Bruner threads intricate solos from high up on his fret board, his fingers dancing nimbly across the instrument. At times the singer Andreya Triana drifts onto stage and stands bathed in a spotlight, lending ethereal notes to the mix, before drifting out again. The only person who remains above the music is Ellison himself; a broad grin on his face, he stands behind the laptop, occasionally dabbling with the dials, but more often looking like he's enjoying it more than anyone else in the room.
Though occasionally wobbling close to jazz noodle territory, this was for the most part an accomplished show by a musician revelling in the serendipity of being a master of his craft who has found the artists capable of pulling his electronic vision together into thrilling live music.
Flying Lotus' new album, Cosmogramma, is out now.