Captain Murphy could never have really been anyone else could he? Though there was much speculation and Flying Lotus himself tried to throw people off the scent, and despite some embarrassing, but attention-grabbing trolling from Rejjie Snow, Thursday night Fly Lo revealed himself as Captain Murphy by playing live in LA on Wednesday night.
Those proceeding four years have seen Steven Ellison become a grand wizard of jazzy hip-hop and electronic productions, much feted and much celebrated but he’s clearly been spending time behind closed doors on his rapping.
Generally speaking, I’m more inclined to love the sonically punishing end of Flying Lotus productions over his impressive, intricate jazz and soul tapestries. This year’s Until The Quiet Comes veered too close to grey lounge music, much of it felt indistinctive despite its obvious detail. It became one of those records I tried to like but really couldn’t muster any great enthusiasm about as a whole.
Duality then, is more my thing. A cult-themed cartoon rap (Captain Murphy is an Adult Swim Sealab 2021 character) album with Ellison’s pitch-shifted vocals and tracks which are closer to the hip-hop side of Fly Lo’s productions.
Ellison provides only six of the album’s productions and one of them is a collaboration with Madlib, Duality’s closest and truest comparison. Madlib’s alter-ego as Quasimoto is the blueprint. It’s got a similar discombobulating flavour through its multiple voices and moods. Other names contributing productions include Just Blaze, TEEBS, Samiyam, Jeremiah Jae and TNGHT. Where Until The Quiet Comes pulled back, Duality is the sound of Ellison having a lot of fun and is all the more infectious and reinvigorating for it.