38-year old Steve Ellison aka Flying Lotus aka FlyLo is the genius behind record label Brainfeeder from Los Angeles, California. A man of many talents, he is known as a musician, producer, rapper, DJ and filmmaker. Since his first album simply titled 1983 (released in 2006), FlyLo has been one of the most exciting names in music, always going against the grain with his art.
Now, with the release of his sixth album called Flamagra under Warp Records, FlyLo brings to the table a slew of talented artists such as Solange, Anderson .Paak, Little Dragon, Tierra Whack, George Clinton, Toro y Moi, Denzel Curry, Thundercat, David Lynch and Shabazz Palaces. Despite the multitude of collaborators in this album, it doesn’t take away from FlyLo’s exploration of hip-hop, soul and dance, tastefully executed in a way that only he knows how to create.
The 27-track Flamagra album exudes happiness and emotes all types of feelings, from the chill claps of “Post Requisite” to the funky “Burning Down the House” with George Clinton. Each track transitions with pure delight, delivering surprising elements when FlyLo incorporates different structures and unique approaches that leave you wanting more as each track ends.
Float through a space-like vibe with tracks like “Andromeda” before cooling off to the melodic, tinkling piano tones of “Remind U”. There is also the 8-bit-influenced “Pilgrim Side Eye” that will give listeners the feeling of being in a video game. Flamagra is a journey into the unexpected – the darker-toned but trippy “Actually Virtual” with enigmatic hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces might make you feel all sorts of weird, but the album sucks you into a rowdy vortex with Denzel Curry on “Black Balloons Reprise”, and finally balances out with the golden sounds of “9 Carrots” with Toro y Moi or “The Climb” with Thundercat.
However overwhelming it might get at times (it is, after all, a 27-track album with a myriad of markedly different styles), FlyLo’s Flamagra definitely encapsulates many moods. One thing’s for sure – it’s a rollercoaster experience that you never knew you needed until now. What makes Flamagra unique is that it can be played according to the sequence of the album or in shuffle mode, so you get a nice little surprise every time. The nearly 70-minute FlyLo album is very ambitious for the first-time listener, but like many great forms of art, you’ll learn to truly appreciate its unconventional beauty if you let it simmer with a few listens.
SOL’s review in short: Flamagra is one of the most exciting and inventive projects released by Flying Lotus that showcases his brilliance on each track. It is a psychedelic and unpredictable collection of music that hits the emotions so cleverly; definitely worth the five-year wait, and will undeniably become a FlyLo trademark.