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Album Reviews, Music

Album Review: Flying Lotus – “Flamagra”

By: Kirstin Bews

 

 

Flying Lotus is releasing his new album, Flamagra, on May 24th via Warp Records. Aptly named, this album is fire. While this album comes half a decade after his last effort, You’re Dead (2014), it feels like no time was wasted in the creating of this 27-track masterpiece.  

The theme of fire comes from the mesmerizing feeling of watching flames in a fire, something that Flying Lotus has succeeded in with this album. The imagery of fire in Flamagra comes from wildfires that have plagued L.A in the past few years. Fire has so much power over humans, so much so its a founding factor to our existence, however, fire can also end our lives. Flamaragra takes this concept and lights it up. If you’re already familiar with Flying Lotus, you’ll have heard conversations about his otherworldly sounds, music that has been composed in the outer cosmos. 

The opening track “Heroes”, spins us into this outer-space realm quickly, with a deep murmur over slow and heavy synth notes. The space gun noise around the minute mark doesn’t suggest anger, instead, the beat is calming. The dialogue stays muted like we’re listening to a conversation on the other side of the shuttle door. This cosmic-jam is kept up in “Pose Requisite” where the beat is faster but there’s no sound human vocal sound, there is, however, harmonizing sounds that move so in sync that they mimic human vocal tone.  

“Hereos In A Half Shell” climbs and descends a ladder of notes like a futuristic jazz ensemble which sets us up nicely for the noise of “More” feat. Anderson Paak. More contains a stealthy rap chorus that is thick in sound, although soon wrapped up in harmonizing tones that scoop the song up with lighter air, the lyrics tell us about accountability in growing up: “There’s gotta be more life than ourselves, that’s when I come out of myself”. While coming “out as myself” describes an out of body experience, that mimics the outer of space vibe, Flying Lotus recalls looking at his peers and thinking even though these people are adults, there’s still a kid inside that body. This points to the inner kid in all of us coming out of our adult bodies to play around and have fun.

Second last track on the album, “Thank U Malcolm”, pays tribute to the late Mac Miller, rapper and friend to Flying Lotus. The futuristic funeral-style hymn is gentle and holds an angel-like harmony throughout. The song name is spelled the same way as “thank u, next” by Miller’s ex-girlfriend, Ariana Grande, where Grande sings “wish I could say, “Thank you” to Malcolm, ’cause he was an angel”.

Flamagra is a creative leap for Flying Lotus, as this album manages to cover hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz, dance music, tribal poly-rhythms, IDM, as well as the L.A beat scene, and these sounds somehow work meticulously together, making this Flying Lotus’s best album yet.

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