sat 08/08/2020

CD: Flying Lotus - Flamagra | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Flying Lotus - Flamagra

CD: Flying Lotus - Flamagra

Californian beat scene monarch continues his cosmic drift

It's five years since Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus released an album, and it's not entirely clear how far he's moved creatively. To be fair he's been busy branching out in other directions, producing for superstar rapper Kendrick Lamar, making short films, and helping members of his Brainfeeder stable like Thundercat and Kamasi Washington along to greater fame. But with this album he seems to have taken up precisely where 2014's “Your Dead” left off. The same preoccupations are here: exquisite musicianship mashed together with deliberate decay and destruction, high falutin spiritual concerns likewise forced to juke it out with ugly pop culture violence, and the basic bodily impact of funk refracted through an endless digital-psychedelic hall of mirrors.

But then, that's plenty to be wrangling with. And though it might take a little bit of getting into – unless you're absolutely off your tits – this record shows that all those themes are a long way from wrung dry. As previously, it's structured much like a hip hop beat tape of the kind popular with fellow west coast experimental samplists like Madlib. Meandering songs butt up against one- and two-minute sketches, guest vocals are threads in a tapestry more than star turns, and the whole thing bumps along with a deceptive sense of laissez-faire stonedness.

The devil, though, is in the details. And as soon as you are fully immersed and checking out what's happening around you as the beats and bass ebb and flow, you'll start appreciating them. Among the guest spots, a gnarled David Lynch narration, a fleeting melody from Little Dragon, a levitational one from Solange Knowles, and a wild, multifacted rap vocal from meteoric young star Tierra Whack stand out. But just as attention grabbing are instrumental jams like the five minute Bach-goes-psyche-funk variations of “Takashi” or the minute of opiated prog that is “Andromeda”. Just as with FlyLo's work before, if you're not into it, you won't ever be into it, but if you give it your time, what appears to be a sprawling, sludgy, smoky mess of fractured grooves gives up strange and wonderful secrets of every turn.

@joemuggs

Among the guest spots, a gnarled David Lynch narration, a fleeting melody from Little Dragon, a levitational one from Solange Knowles, and a wild, multifacted rap vocal from meteoric young star Tierra Whack stand out

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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