The Lowdown: The concept of fire burns at the core of Flying Lotus’ new record, Flamagra. With inspiration from filmmaker David Lynch, Flying Lotus begins with the image of an “eternal flame sitting on the hill” and sets forth to create one of the most stunning records of the producer’s career. Flamagra is a work that explores FlyLo’s many sounds and styles; from hip-hop and IDM to soul and dance, the record is a remarkable experience brimming with emotion and technical joy.
The Good: From beginning to end, there’s a tremendous meditative quality to Flamagra. This vibe does occasionally get interrupted by tracks like the ominous, bass-heavy “Fire Is Coming” (featuring David Lynch) and the aggressive-flowing Denzel Curry guest spot on “Black Balloons Reprise”. Outside of those tracks, there’s always a pleasant aura coming off the music. Whether it’s the soothing claps and fluttering notes of “Post Requisite” or the funky groove of “Burning Down the House” with George Clinton, Flamagra always has something unique to offer.
At a whopping 27 songs, Flamagra’s transitions from track to track make for both delightful continuations of serenity and intriguing surprises. One will find themselves floating in the cosmic atmosphere of “Andromeda” only to soon after be basking in the lovely piano work and radiant tones of “Remind U”. On the flip side, “Pilgrim Side Eye” gives the listener the feeling that they are walking through a video game world, various 8-bit-leaning notes popping up throughout the song. There’s no doubting the technical work at play in a Flying Lotus song; Flamagra incorporates numerous styles of music inside its unique composition structures. The fluctuating tempo of “Inside Your Home” ends up creating multiple moods in the song, with some moments coming off more lively and others more relaxed.
As a whole, Flamagra is a sincerely joyous experience. The blends of soothing sounds and presentations make for a record one can enjoy in a group or by themself. The pleasant nature of the material provides a space for one to feel alongside FlyLo, allowing the listener to potentially explore emotions through the art.
The Bad: It’s tough to harp too long on any of the record’s few negatives. Given Flamagra’s scale on a technical level, some listeners may find the work a little overwhelming. While all these songs can be enjoyed on their own, there’s an added benefit to listening to the record as a whole; this by no means is a massive con, but to some degree there’s a lot to process. No matter how tight and enjoyable the production, 27 songs and a nearly 70-minute runtime may prove too strenuous for some listeners.
The Verdict: Flamagra isn’t the first Flying Lotus album that can be enjoyed from beginning to end, but it still feels special. There’s a unity among these songs that exude emotion, like the warm comfort provided by a flame. The brilliant auras of sound and feeling swirl together to create moments of joy and tranquility; Flamagra is an experience that invites listeners to come together and listen to what that fire has to say. It’s not only an excellent achievement by Flying Lotus, on both emotional and technical levels, but also the most fascinating work of his career thus far.
Essential Tracks: “Post Requisite”, “Remind U”, and “More”