Stephen Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, is in a musical sphere of his own. Expanding and blurring the line between genres, his music - and his general creative output - is bar none otherwordly, heady, and epic in scope. From his 2006 full-length debut 1983 to his immersive multimedia live shows, to his Brainfeeder imprint signing new-jazz heavyweights Thundercat and Kamasi Washington, to his foray into film directing and scoring - he has scored two short films, made two short films of his own, directed and scored his first feature-length outing Kuso, and scored two more feature-length movies that will soon drop via Brainfeeder’s new film franchise - he has crafted his own creative empire that has somehow all been channeled into this sixth studio album Flamagra. It's an album that "sweeps up every quantum advance and creative leap of the last dozen years of Flying Lotus’ career and takes them even further" as Warp Records rightly describes it. It's a masterpiece of cosmic jazz, gloopy funk, boom-bap slap, and atmospheric headiness. From the opening track "Heroes", with it's eerie swirling layers of synthesis, frenetic, running bass (Thundercat plays on 22 of the albums 27 tracks), and strings (contributed by the multi-instrumentalist and heavyweight Miguel Atwood Ferguson), you know this is gonna be special. The album features contributions by a collection that'll have you scratching your head (but in all the right ways): David Lynch, Herbie Hancock, Tierra Whack, Denzel Curry, George Clinton, Solange, Anderson .Paak, Little Dragon, Shabazz Palaces, and Toro Y Moi.
I want to let the music speak for itself so I won't get too deep into each track, but I will mention a few personal standout tracks. The eerie / surreal "Fire Is Coming" with David Lynch that kicks off Side C; the jazz/funk/somethingelseentirely track "Pilgrim Side Eye" which features legend Herbie Hancock; the Quasimoto inspired tracks "Yellow Belly" (w/ Tierra Whack) and "Black Balloons Reprise" w/ Denzel Curry; the biting simplicity of "Say Something" and "Pygmy"; the Dilla-ness of "FF4"; the uplifting "Thank You Malcolm," a tribute to friend Mac Miller (as is the track "Find Your Own Way Home"); the Cosmogramma era, boogie-bouncing "Takashi" and equally funky "Burning Down The House" with George Clinton... I mean damn, I could go on. This album's in it's own musical echelon, an odysseyian epic of sound that's been at least 5 years in the making. It's FlyLo's' most ambitious - and fully realized - album to date, and easily one of the most grandiose albums within the hip-hop cannon to come out within the last decade. Madlib + Dilla's master of beatmaking meets the true otherworldliness of Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra in all the best ways. This is the standard edition, housed in a gatefold jacket and features printed mirriboard inner sleeves. 27 tracks in all pressed onto 2 LP's, released by Warp Records. Cannot recommend this album enough, so DO NOT sleep!
- black double vinyl pressing
- housed in gatefold jacket
- clear PVC outer sleeve
- printed mirriboard inner sleeves
- digital download included
- limited edition
- music label: Warp Records 2019
reviewed by Ricky Fleece 05/2019