Los Angeles electronic auteur Flying Lotus (real name: Steve Ellison) is supporting his fourth album, "Until the Quiet Comes" (Warp Records), with a fall headlining tour and an Erykah Badu-assisted single, "See Thru to U." But perhaps the most stunning aspect of the promotional campaign has been its forward-thinking visuals, most notably in a short film also titled "Until the Quiet Comes" that arrived in early September, about a month before the album's release date (Oct. 2).
Directed by Khalil Joseph, the film refracts the darkly lit R&B of Flying Lotus' latest opus through abstract, sometimes grisly, scenes set throughout Los Angeles' Nickerson Gardens housing project. In one shot, a child lies motionless in an empty swimming pool, red liquid spilling away from his body; in another, a shirtless man dances hypnotically toward a gang of apathetic teenagers in the dead of night.
Instead of tying the video to one album track, Flying Lotus (known as "FlyLo" to friends) edited pieces of three songs together from "Until the Quiet Comes" -"See Thru to U," "Hunger" and "Getting There"-and delivered the music to Joseph, who has helmed clips for indie-rap troupe Shabazz Palaces, as well as the Vans sneaker company. "A lot of FlyLo's music can be very dark," Warp label manager Josh Berman says, "and this record has some really gorgeous, ethereal, upbeat stuff as well."
The film drew online praise from Spin, the Los Angeles Times and Stereogum, and "Khalil Joseph" briefly became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter on Sept. 6. The strong response prompted Warp to submit the unedited video to MTV, and, even with the violent content, the short film was accepted by MTV2. Meanwhile, it has earned 511,000 YouTube views.
A couple of weeks later, Flying Lotus unveiled a markedly different visual: an animated video for the album cut "Putty Boy Strut" that features robots working in rhythm to brightly colored beats. The clip, directed by animation guru Cyriak Harris and released Sept. 19, served as a fantastical antithesis to the stark realism of Joseph's short film.
Next up for Flying Lotus is translating his breathtaking visuals into his live show, which begins Sept. 23 with a one-off concert backing Animal Collective at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl and resumes in New York on Oct. 7. Berman says the producer is once again teaming with visual artist Dr. Strangeloop, a longtime collaborator who recently began working on Skrillex's stage show, to project "collage-found imagery" while Flying Lotus spins his new tunes. Still-unannounced events in New York and Los Angeles will coincide with the album's release.