The new Flying Lotus record is one that is going to fly (no pun intended) over the heads of many. But those that get it will really get it.
If you know this act, you probably have read headlines about the 3D experience this artist is advertising for upcoming shows and festivals. I won’t pretend to know anything about it (I haven’t done my research on this aspect of Flying Lotus), but if the live show is anything like this album, it will be a doozy. After all, they are being advertised as a headliner for the quickly rising Desert Daze Festival in southern California.
Right off the bat, I’m struck by how simultaneously eclectic and accessible this album is. The psychedelic aspect is perhaps the most obvious, but Flying Lotus takes in elements of pop culture nostalgia and gives them a quirky, surreal twist. The introductory track, “Heroes” (which takes some cues from Dragon Ball Z), feels like being a kid waiting in the queue of a ride at Universal Studios or Disney World (we’re talking a darker ride, not It’s a Small World, to be clear). This sets the stage for the rest of the record.
Reading the list of features is like reading a Who’s Who of alternative hip-hop and R&B: Shabazz Palaces, Toro y Moi, and Anderson Paak are just a few of the names that pop up. The Paak guested “More” is an early highlight meshing his upbeat vocals with the Flying Lotus weird realm seamlessly. Keep in mind this is just track 4 out of 27. Buckle up.
Another odd moment (I could talk about these all day) occurs in track 6—”Burning Down the House” which features funk superstar George Clinton. Many vocal effects that would be individually obnoxious combine to create a composition surprisingly compelling. High pitched nasal vocals, laughing, and handclaps are just a few of the elements used here.
The greatest strength of Flamagra is also its greatest weakness. The record is so sweeping and grandiose that after a listen I knew I enjoyed it, but was hard pressed to remember any one part specifically. Perhaps the most instantaneously memorable track is “Fire Is Coming,” narrated by David Lynch, which really function as more of an interlude dividing the record into two halves than anything else. There are quieter moments in the back half of the record to keep your mind from spinning too much out of control, like the back to back “Andromeda” and “Remind U,” which play out like a surreal introduction to a soundtracked romance.
Did I whet your whistle with this review? Let us know if you dig this artist. There’s still a lot for me to think about, but I’d see Flying Lotus live.