Immersion isn’t necessarily about big stage pieces, or hiding the performer, or scale, or brightness. It seems it should be about finding a creative connection between visuals and music, between visualists and musicians, and creating some dimension that suggests you’re seeing more than only what you’re seeing.
Flying Lotus has long collaborated with Strangeloop and other Southern California visualists. True to his Los Angeles home, his label Brainfeeder routinely sets up cinema-style, laptop artists dwarfed by the big silver screen of the Downtown Independent. (See Strangeloop’s video below for a sense of the vibe.)
In Layer 3, that long-term relationship – from long before FlyLo became a favorite music star – pays off. Documented exquisitely by Red Bull Music Academy, the visual performance extends to scrims to produce a three-layer wonderland of visualization. Flying Lotus himself appears to be warping through time and space as liquid light patterns ooze and splash around him. There are three layers of performers, too: Strangeloop and Timeboy run separate scrims, matching live visuals to Steve’s live music, a nice alternative to the typical two-operator tag team visual show.
It’s important that this is really performance: it’s not a light show, and it’s not just stage theater, but really involves the visual artists playing live (in Resolume Avenue) as Steve performs live music sets (in Ableton Live). Timeboy and Strangeloop are each audiovisual artists, too, sensitive to music and visuals in time, both.
Our new mini-documentary peeks behind the scenes of Flying Lotus’s new live audiovisual extravaganza, ‘Layer 3’ – which the Academy was proud to assist with developing in support of the ‘Until The Quiet Comes’ tour. Made with the help of visual artists Strangeloop and Timeboy, the trio have devised a method of transporting FlyLo into outer dimensions using two transparent scrims and interactive front and rear projectors, conjuring nothing short of the acid-fried Space Odyssey “Stargate” scene.
There really is an aesthetic statement that comes out of this, but just as musicians play together for long periods of time, I think it matters that visualists and musician were likewise jamming in the past. That sense of visual significance comes out of a scene in LA, and scenes take time and repetition. (I don’t mean to discount the value of sitting in out of the blue. In fact, ironically, I did just that, improvising live visuals for FlyLo in Philadelphia a couple of years ago. But, on the other hand, that still fits the jazz metaphor – it’s still about improvisation, matching aesthetics, and focusing on the relationship between sound and image.) Here’s a look, from a year ago, at one of those Brainfeeder Sessions, with visuals and editing by Strangeloop to Mono/Poly music: