Given his noted love of anime, scoring a fantastical retelling of a 16th-century samurai warrior of African descent serving under a Japanese daimyo, must be a dream project for Flying Lotus. But, as we’ve come to expect from the man who brought us the mind-bending 2019 LP Flamagra and his own written, directed and scored full-length surrealist fever dream Kuso back in 2017, Steve Ellison is anything but predictable.
Where his recent work has ventured deep into the hitherto unexplored avant-garde reaches of contemporary electronic music, jazz and hip-hop, FlyLo’s score to renowned anime creators Studio MAPPA’s Netflix original series Yasuke — on which he also acts as story consultant and executive producer — sees FlyLo eschew his digital maximalism with rumblings of traditional instrumentation, sweeping romanticism and widescreen cinematic scope.
Broadening the canvas of show creators LeSean Thomas and Takeshi Satou’s alternative-historical Sengoku period of magic and swordplay, with a soundtrack of Morricone-style epic tones, traditional Japanese percussion instruments and West African percussion, the feudal yet futuristic world of Yasuke is summoned.
The drum-driven drama of ‘Your Armour’ and ‘Your Lord’ simmer with synth flutes, strings and koto, as the bubbling arps of ‘War Lords’ recall the cyberpunk noir of Vangelis’ Blade Runner score, while frequent collaborators Thundercat and Niki Randa, also make an appearance in this parallel universe.