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  • Cy White

Flying Lotus: Yasuke

Yet again FlyLo tries his hand at being intentionally cinematic. With Yasuke, an anime tale of Japan's only samurai of African descent, FlyLo more successfully encapsulates the landscapes and waves of emotional content to create an expansive aural experience.

With the same flare and fire of all of his work, Yasuke manages to be more focused than 2019's Flamagra. It never loses any of the spirit of the man. Instead it allows listeners to really immerse themselves in the world FlyLo has built for this historical figure.

For once in a long while, FlyLo really leans into the idea of subtlety. Even in the midst of incredible drama, there are moments of stillness, quiet, whispers as opposed to thunderclaps and shouts ("Hiding in the Shadows," "Fighting Without Honor," contrarily enough, "Your Screams"). Instead of insisting upon his brilliance, FlyLo allows the music to speak for itself. It's a fascinating practice in balance (particularly on the listener's part). One recognizes the grandness in each composition, but they don't feel loud, don't force their way into the listener's field of "vision," so to speak.

Unlike what many found issue with in You're Dead and even what made itself known in his classic works like Cosmogramma and Until the Quiet Comes, Yasuke doesn't flagrantly reach for the twisted and fantastic. Instead, the music flows seamlessly, embraces an elegance and maturity that fuses effortlessly with his weird and wonderful aesthetic. The lone rapper on this piece, Denzel Curry, adds a dimension to track "African Samurai" that suits more than the figure's narrative. It etches itself within the fiber of the track, a natural combination that gives the piece an added layer of grit.

It's astonishing, really. I've always pegged FlyLo as one of my top producers. What can I say? I have an affinity for the bold, brash, weird, frightening. Always have. That being said, even I can admit to noticing a bit of stagnation in some of FlyLo's musical efforts. The man himself went on record as saying he wanted to expand his musical abilities. Flamagra was testament of that, Lotus admitting that he learned piano officially in order to create the broader compositional strokes of the album. He's pushed that even further with Yasuke. If he's not careful, he'll put himself in that same class of cinematic auteur as the legendary Jun Seba. Yasuke is just that immersive.

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