“Viagra for Impotent Balrogs.”—Thoughts on the New Fly Lo Album: “Flamagra”

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I don’t know what Flamagra means, but if years of browsing etymonline.com have taught me anything it sounds like it could signify Viagra for impotent Balrogs (as a portmanteau of Flame and Viagra)—and, dear lord, judging by the potency of Flamagra those fiery devils must be ablaze with stimulation, fully erect and wild-eyed: many-thonged whips snapping against the skin of their demon lovers (I may have taken this too far). 

It’s a real whopper of an album, with a run-time of over 66 minutes. 27 songs in total: one for each bone in the human hand—all of which I’ve now shattered bitch-slapping my tender neighbor for imploring me to turn it down. “Buddy, this isn’t the hospitality industry,” I told him, leaning in my doorway, on a Wednesday night: 

“There’s no turndown service here.” 

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Flamagra was five years in the making (Fly Lo’s last album, You’re Dead, was released in 2014), which sounds about right; good things require a generous gestation period. And after all that time, after all that work, you can understand why Fly Lo himself refers to it as “an astral afro-futurist masterpiece”—and he’s not wrong. Especially not about the futurist part. This is what the hippies thought 2019 would sound like. Indeed, this is what 2019 should sound like, which is, perhaps, why Flamagra has its way of throwing the superannuated into sharp relief: “How is it that Fly Lo is seamlessly blending ethereal jazz and cyborg beats while Republicans in Alabama are still predicating legislation on Bible study?” I wondered, after that first listen. 

(Or, if you prefer domestic politics: “Flamagra’s so ahead of its time that whatever troglodytic orgy spawned Iceland’s Center Party is still fully loin-clothed—and waiting for some two-bit troll to press play on the Barry White,” to quote an unnamed source.) 

But if you’re not sold on the merits of an endearing and otherwordly soundscape alone, the added bonus of all the coolest acts in music making an appearance might do the trickAnderson .Paak. Tierra Whack. Solange. Shabazz Palaces. Toro y Moi. Little Dragon. Madonna—just kiddin’ (futurist Fly Lo foresaw Madonna leaving what was left of her career on a staircase in Tel Aviv years before we did). And there’s some great songs here. Black Balloons Reprise really animates my limbs, so much so that I want it played at my funeral—to ensure that I’m positively deceased before I’m buried. Or, in the event that I’m cremated—to afford me some hope of rising from the ashes. 

Anyhow, I’m convinced that critiquing music is a rather pointless endeavor; a way of putting one’s prejudices into words, which will have little or no effect on the reader’s own experience of the music being reviewed (but maybe it’s harmless fun). All of that being said: If you’re not losing your shit over the new Fly Lo album then congratulations on your recently successful colon cleanse.

Flamagra’s so sick I’m in hospice care
right now going through the seven stages of grief totally fine with
it.

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