Flying Lotus’ ‘Flamagra’ prides itself on apocalyptic themes and massive collaborations

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Flying Lotus’ ‘Flamagra’ prides itself on apocalyptic themes and massive collaborations

Words By Jonathan Reynoso

The five year wait is over, Steven Ellison is back.

With a massive cast of collaborators and creators, Steven Ellison returns as Flying Lotus after a five-year-long wait. George Clinton, Denzel Curry, Little Dragon, David Lynch, and others are all wrapped in Ellison’s cosmic beats that are often brilliant and, at times, lingering.

There’s an apocalyptic theme bubbling under the surface across Flamagra. Fire crops up on ‘Burning Down The House’ with George Clinton and again on ‘Fire Is Coming’ featuring none other than David Lynch. Then you reach the song ‘Black Balloons Reprise’ with Denzel Curry who describes the end of the world. “The day the black balloon explode, we all die” – could this album be FlyLo’s comment on our planet’s inevitable fate?

Musically, there’s a feast of sounds to chew on. Skittering beats pop and crackle on the incredible ‘Post Requisite’, an apparent Madlib influence bleeds into tracks like ‘FF4’ and ‘Andromeda’. FlyLo’s patented blend of jazz, hip hop, and lo-fi beats are unmistakable on the instrumental tracks.

Issues with the album start with the song ‘Yellow Belly’ with Tierra Whack. The rapper is talented, but she has a flaccid spoken word verse that doesn’t do much for the song. It also stops the album in its tracks. Like, a hard stop.

The instrumentals can also interrupt the momentum of the album. Take the song ‘Say Something’; at barely over a minute, the horror movie like track only appears and then vanishes forever. What was the point?

Otherwise, this is a solid return for Steven Ellison. Beats like FlyLo’s are as popular as ever thanks to a mainstream push for lo-fi hip hop instrumentals online and Flamagra makes a case that Flying Lotus can still hold his weight.