Reviewed on Sunday March 9
It’s got to be a tough call to support a ‘Cosmic Bass Visionary’ and kick off the party at 10pm on a Sunday night, not to mention transform the Opera House Concert Hall into anything close to a smoky club, but Silent Jay played it cool and managed to do almost that, despite glaring houselights and the chatter of the audience. His teasing R&B tracks built smoothly before a twinkling yet satisfying drop and it was easy to imagine in a smaller club space minus the outward distractions his sets would be even more absorbing.
The music that Flying Lotus creates is immersive and transcendent on a purely audio level, but in adding multiple visual layers the experience of a FlyLo gig becomes sublime.
This Layer 3 show was a celestial trip through a colourful galaxy that felt like Pink Floyd had run into Mario and Luigi on the Rainbow Road. The staggering visuals by Strangeloop and Timeboy featured swirling topographic line drawings that echoed Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album artwork, flickering monochrome test patterns, a dizzying rainbow vortex, the twinkling late-night wander of a dancer through slicked downtown streets, and sci-fi inspired machinery, all projected across two transparent screens. The third layer was the man himself. His booth between the screens was the nerve centre of the production and he bounced around stitching all the pieces together, sometimes even grabbing the mic and venturing onstage to throw down some of his Captain Murphy material.
Staccato strobes gave way to pulsing, shifting molecules in the visuals that corresponded with the maestro’s rearrangement of elements, reassembling them into new musical formulas. When he mixed Clams Casino’s ‘I’m God’ beat into ‘Between Villains’ from Ideas+Drafts+Loops and then hopped down from the decks to rap his Captain Murphy verse it was next level. For ‘Putty Boy Strut’ there were robots marching through a city chatting to each other until the kill mode was switched on and flames swirled around to reveal a projection of the eyeless Yeezus from the mixtape cover, and his ‘Black Skinhead’ rework brought those who’d sat down back to their feet.
Layer 3 was a magical conversation between sound and visual. The bass god held sway for over an hour and wrapped up with an extended ‘Do The Astral Plane’ and humble thanks, leaving the audience to trickle back to their real (but now slightly flatter) world.