There was once a time that the producer and director best known as Flying Lotus made things easy on his audiences. He made woozy, uncomplicated beatwork—he won over bros by dropping EDM remixes of Waka Flocka Flame hits. Those halcyon days are a distant memory in 2019, though. The last decade has seen the man born Steven Ellison diving ever-deeper into freak shit. He's made songs inspired by near-death experiences and the spirit molecule, and he also directed his first feature-length film—a body horror so gross it inspired walkouts at Sundance. This is what he considers "just having fun" now.
So it's fitting then that the first taste of his just-announced sixth album Flamagra is as surreal and overwhelming as it is. "Fire Is Coming" begins with ominously wheezing soundscapes and screaming children, moving subtly through Psycho-esque orchestration, before none other than Dvid Lynch shows up to tell an apocalyptic short story about a kid named Tommy who answers an ominous phone call, and his mom who runs into a problem in her garden involving some sort of black slime. He repeats the title of the song like a siren. It's upsetting, and even more so when coupled with the video—directed by Ellison and David Firth (who you might know as the Salad Fingers guy)—which features Lynch telling the story from inside the mouth of a wolf in a wheelchair. It's a lot.
It's hard to say at this juncture if the rest of the record will hold this end-of-days tone, but Flying Lotus himself suggests in a press release that the flames that Lynch describes are at the center of it. “I’d been working on stuff for the past five years, but it was always all over the place. I’d always had this thematic idea in mind—a lingering concept about fire, an eternal flame sitting on a hill,” He says. “Some people love it, some people hate it. Some people would go on dates there and some people would burn love letters in the fire.”
Still, even if it's as heavy as this song, at least he's facing the end of the world with some friends. Flamagra will feature contributions from a star-studded cast of collaborators including Solange, Tierra Whack, Anderson .Paak, George Clinton, Little Dragon, Denzel Curry, David Lynch, Shabazz Palaces, Thundercat, and Toro y Moi. The record's out in full on May 24 on Warp. You can check out the tracklist below, and listen to "Fire Is Coming" up above, if you dare.
2. Post Requisite
3. Heroes In A Half Shell
4. More feat. Anderson .Paak
6. Burning Down The House feat. George Clinton
7. Spontaneous feat. Little Dragon
9. Pilgrim Side Eye
10. All Spies
11. Yellow Belly feat. Tierra Whack
12. Black Balloons Reprise feat. Denzel Curry
13. Fire Is Coming feat. David Lynch
14. Inside Your Home
15. Actually Virtual feat. Shabazz Palaces
17. Remind U
18. Say Something
19. Debbie Is Depressed
20. Find Your Own Way Home
21. The Climb feat. Thundercat
23. 9 Carrots feat. Toro y Moi
25. Land Of Honey feat. Solange
26. Thank U Malcolm
27. Hot Oct.