Nearly half a decade has somehow elapsed since the last Flying Lotus album— the Grammy‐nominated cadaver tetris of You’re Dead!
During that intermission, the multi‐disciplinary Los Angeles artist has remained in constant orbit, collaborating with Kendrick Lamar on the classic To Pimp a Butterfly, directing and writing the Sundance‐premiered comic horror hallucination Kuso, and producing much of Thundercat’s Drunk. He’s also nurtured his Brainfeeder imprint into the most consistently innovative record label of the decade. Yet throughout that span, there was the matter of his next full‐length statement.
Enter Flamagra ‐ a work that sweeps up every quantum advance and creative leap of the last dozen years of Lotus’ career and takes them even further; the Warp release encompasses hip‐hop, funk, soul, jazz, global dance music, tribal poly‐rhythms, IDM, the L.A. Beat scene, but it soars above a specific vortex whose coordinates can’t be accurately charted.
Other than to say that it is a Flying Lotus record, perhaps the definitive one. An astral afro‐futurist masterpiece of deep soul, cosmic dust, and startling originality.
He’s aided by a dream cast of collaborators: Anderson .Paak, George Clinton, Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, Tierra Whack, Denzel Curry, Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces, Toro y Moi, and his telepathic kinsman, Thundercat. David Lynch even pops up for an eerie narration wherein he sombrely warns that, “Fire is coming.” But they all naturally bend to the magnetic warp of Lotus’ spells—a transfixing hex unto themselves.
There was also the mournful impact from the death of Lotus’ friend and collaborator Mac Miller, who receives a pair of tributes on the album (“Find Your Own Way Home,” “Thank U Malcolm.”)
So here is Flamagra, the work of a master surrounded by other masters, summarizing, refining, and reinventing the last century of the most brilliant black American music. If Lotus emerged from the sacrosanct tradition of his great aunt Alice Coltrane and her husband John, of Miles and Madlib, Dilla and DOOM, he has constructed his own shrine, a sect that has absorbed all the past genius and carried it into realms that his predecessors couldn’t even imagine. Flying Lotus did it again. Fire is coming.