After five years of anticipation, Los Angeles native producer, Flying Lotus manages to push electronic boundaries even further as he demonstrates his uninhibited capability in his sixth studio album entitled Flamagra. The twenty-seven-track album is an epic journey into the abstract abyss of sound. Taking a multitude of genres down the rabbit hole with him, Steven Ellison does not forget his jazz roots as he also introduces psychedelic hip hop infused electronic beats. A record that is beyond-belief of original earthy bass lines and distinctive beats, Flying Lotus once again proves that his creative brilliance is rare and uncommon.
Flying Lotus worked side by side with bassist/producer Stephen Bruner A.K.A Thundercat throughout the whole album. Thundercat’s signature bass sound becomes a notable motif throughout the record as it creates a special blend of jazzy funk overtones that is only made by these two-artist combined. From the first track, “Heroes,” Bruner makes his appearance with his slow-trotting bass licks over a heart-throbbing beat and a Dragonball sample. Not up until track twenty-one, “The Climb,” do we hear Thundercat’s classy voice come out. The cross-blend of R&B and neo-soul allow both artists to reach a climactic moment with one another. A healthy mixture of trip-hop and funk give Thundercat the space to shine as his cadence coincides well with the instrumentation. In an interview with Apple, Flying Lotus said, “we started this song the way we start everything: frustrated and depressed about the world, knowing we want to make something that reminds people that most of the chaos out there is just noise. Be above all that shit. Be above the bullshit.” Inspiring people to look past the confusion of disorder to bring a better world around, both Flying Lotus and Thundercat provide a service in delivering an intelligent track.
Many notable artists participated in this album. Artist such as Solange, Little Dragon, David Lynch, Anderson .Paak, Herbie Hancock, George Clintion, and more. Each artist added their own ingredients to the mix, and helped each song become its own- a complete work of interpersonal originality is showcased with FlyLo’s ability to produce and collaborate with each artist in specific ways. In “More,” Ellison contributes a big soulful beat that transforms into a straight forward hip hop platform for Anderson .Paak. With heavy bars and an intimate topic, Paak unapologetically professes his feelings of his personal world. Equivalently, Little Dragon does the same in her own way as she adds her flavor in “Spontaneous.” Her intoxicating-dreamy voice is layered properly over the fantasy driven beat that pluses its way into our consciousness.
Flying Lotus continues his sonic voyage, but before he gets to the very end, he stops and pays tribute to Mac Miller. Since his recent passing, it is known that Miller had touched the hearts of many artists, and FlyLo was one of them. The spiritual cadence and earthy modulation in “Thank U Malcom” creates a heavenly depiction of divine gratitude towards his friend- “Thank U Malcom’ is special to me because it’s my way of thanking him for all the inspiration he left behind in his passing, and all the fire he inspired in me, Thundercat, and all of our friends.” Ellison’s appreciation becomes more than words and allow the big drum build and holy vocal ensembles to reflect his position. A good way to say goodbye to a good friend.
It is beautiful to see the transformation of an artist. To witness an artist, tell their story in their own unique way is what allows art to have endless possibilities. Flying Lotus shows us that there is peace in the middle of chaos, that there’s diamonds beneath the dirt, and that love is above all the hate. His ability to combine electronic jazz funk with abstract impressionism reveals that type of artist he is – one that does not care about what people think and keeps it real. Flamagra is more than album, it is a sonic fantasy that takes us into a momentary dream or heaven, where there is no bullshit.