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Flying Lotus - Flamagra (Album Review)

Wednesday, 29 May 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

Five years on from the fantastic ‘You’re Dead!’ comes Steven Ellison’s sixth studio album as Flying Lotus. It is an entertaining case study in versatile production that demonstrates the bandleader-producer’s magnificent talent for musical world-building, but one which occasionally stalls in terms of its melody writing.

The big hitters here are the satisfyingly funky Burning Down The House and More, featuring George Clinton and Anderson .Paak respectively, and both songs are rich in lyrical imagery and elaborate jazz production.

As with his contemporaries Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean, Ellison’s songs often emerge out of one another on albums, giving the records a cut ‘n’ paste aesthetic that belies a high degree of compositional consideration.

More is one such track, opening with one rhythm and melody, only for it to be discarded and an altogether different tune to start up in its place.

Format-wise, ‘Flamagra’ is long.—its 27 (often bite-sized) tracks clock in at 66 minutes. While there is little filler here, the album is not necessarily a thrilling listen. There is a shortage of hooks, and though charismatic luminaries drop in throughout (David Lynch, for example), too much of the music feels incidental. Ellison’s first professional breaks came through producing production music for the TV channel Adult Swim, and that link can be felt here at times.

That said, the quality of the production and arrangements are consistently high, and Ellison is a composer equally comfortable producing jazzy jams (Takashi), arthouse hip hop happenings (Actually Virtual) or minimalist pop (Yellow Belly). This last track features a fantastic turn from Philadelphia rapper Tierra Whack and provides some of the most innovative work on the album.

While it would be harsh to call this album disappointing, one did expect a little more in the way of fireworks from Flying Lotus. He remains one of the most interesting and progressive producers around, but ‘Flamagra’ does not hit all its marks. It succeeds in presenting a sonic mood-board, without really taking us on a distinctive journey.

Flying Lotus Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat August 10 2019 - PORTLAND Oregon - Roseland Theater (USA)
Sun August 11 2019 - SEATTLE Washington - Showbox SoDo (USA)
Mon August 12 2019 - BOISE Idaho - Knitting Factory Boise (USA)
Wed August 14 2019 - MISSOULA Montana - Wilma Theatre (USA)
Thu August 15 2019 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - Union Event Center (USA)
Fri August 16 2019 - DENVER Colorado - Mission Ballroom (USA)
Sun August 18 2019 - OKLAHOMA CITY Oklahoma - Tower Theatre - Oklahoma City (USA)
Tue August 20 2019 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - First Avenue (USA)
Wed August 21 2019 - MADISON Wisconsin - Sylvee (USA)
Sat August 24 2019 - ROYAL OAK Michigan - Royal Oak Music Theatre (USA)
Sun August 25 2019 - TORONTO Ontario - Danforth Music Hall Theatre (Canada)
Mon August 26 2019 - MONTREAL Quebec - Corona Theatre (Canada)
Tue August 27 2019 - BOSTON Massachusetts - House of Blues Boston (USA)
Thu August 29 2019 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Franklin Music Hall (USA)
Fri August 30 2019 - BROOKLYN New York - Brooklyn Mirage (USA)
Sat August 31 2019 - NORTH ADAMS - MassMoCA - Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (USA)
Mon September 02 2019 - COLUMBUS Ohio - EXPRESS LIVE! (USA)
Tue September 03 2019 - PITTSBURGH Pennsylvania - Stage AE (USA)
Wed September 04 2019 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Marathon Music Works (USA)
Thu September 05 2019 - COVINGTON Kentucky - Madison Theater (USA)
Fri September 06 2019 - CHARLOTTE North Carolina - Fillmore Charlotte (USA)
Sat September 07 2019 - RICHMOND Virginia - National Richmond (USA)
Tue September 10 2019 - RALEIGH North Carolina - Ritz (USA)
Wed September 11 2019 - ATLANTA Georgia - Variety Playhouse (USA)
Thu September 12 2019 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Joy Theater (USA)
Fri September 13 2019 - HOUSTON Texas - Warehouse Live (USA)
Sat September 14 2019 - AUSTIN Texas - Emo's-Austin (USA)
Sun September 15 2019 - DALLAS Texas - South Side Ballroom (USA)
Wed September 18 2019 - PHOENIX Arizona - Van Buren (USA)
Thu September 19 2019 - SAN DIEGO California - House Of Blues - San Diego (USA)
Fri September 20 2019 - LOS ANGELES California - Novo (USA)

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