Here’s what you need to know about the follow-up to 2014’s You’re Dead!
It’s been a whole five years since Flying Lotus released his critically-acclaimed fifth album – You’re Dead! – back in 2014. Since then, FlyLo has caused walkouts at Sundance with his surreally gruesome directorial debut, Kuso, scored an animated Blade Runner short, and worked with Salad Fingers creator David Firth on a disturbing animation, Cream.
Yesterday (May 24) though, a follow-up to You’re Dead! finally arrived, titled Flamagra. The long wait between albums has obviously given Flying Lotus (real name Steven Ellison) chance to work on a lot of new music between projects; Flamagra comes in at 27 tracks and there are a lot of collaborations that have been long in the works.
Here’s everything (pretty much) you need to know about Flamagra.
IT’S KIND OF A CONCEPT ALBUM
The vaguely fire-related title is no mistake. Apparently Flamagra draws on the devastating wildfires that have swept California – Flying Lotus himself is based in LA – as well as the so-called Ghost Ship fire, a 2016 blaze that broke out in an Oakland warehouse that housed the Ghost Ship artist collective, killing 36.
It’s easy to see where the concept at the centre of the album – an eternal flame lighting Los Angeles – originated, then. But it’s not necessarily seen as a bad thing, this flame. In a statement accompanying the Apple Music release of Flamagra, Flying Lotus describes it as “one that was contained, and good,” and muses: “How would we use it?”
THERE ARE SOME IMPRESSIVE GUEST FEATURES
Flying Lotus’s production style is definitely unmistakable and Flamagra revisits a lot of his past sounds, but his knack for collaboration (see: the Kendrick Lamar-featuring “Never Catch Me” from 2014) also shines through.
The list of features on the new album is impressive in itself. Some of the most notable, in order of appearance, are: Anderson .Paak, George Clinton (whose Parliament-Funkadelic collective directly inspired some of Flamagra’s tracks), Tierra Whack, David Lynch, Thundercat, and Solange.
Videos have already been released for the Anderson .Paak and David Lynch tracks, with the latter featuring the filmmaker telling a characteristically odd story that splits the album in two.
The Tierra Whack collab is also particularly notable; the Philadelphia rapper and Dazed 100er raps with a slowed-down flow over glittery instrumentals. Frequent FlyLo collaborator Thundercat, meanwhile, only sings on “The Climb”, but “he’s pretty much playing on 90% of the album”.
BUT FLYLO IS ALSO TAKING THINGS INTO HIS OWN HANDS (LITERALLY)
While the majority of Flying Lotus’s previous music has been made on his laptop, he took piano lessons at the same time as recording Flamagra and learned each instrument on the album. His great-aunt and -uncle (Alice and John Coltrane) would be proud.
This also reflects a trend in the way Flying Lotus creates, as David Firth also taught him to animate so that he could create some visuals for Kuso, for which it was apparently difficult to find collaborators (wonder why?).
Listen to Flamagra now, or watch videos from the album below.