Review by Rosey Purkiss-McEndoo
My first audio encounter with Flamingods was only days ago, recommended by a good friend. We listened to the debut album ‘Sun’ before going to see their gig at Wahl Bar. Funnily enough, we didn’t actually see them play. The explanation has little anecdotal value; arrived too early, heard sound check, blah, watched pissed guy shout songs at everybody, ran out of money for pints, went home early, blah. In hindsight this was a regrettable decision; their set up looked like an exotic instrument shop, and after listening more thoroughly to the album I imagine it would have been something quite wonderful to watch how the hell each one produced sound.
Note to self: don’t leave early, idiot.
The album itself is rather brilliant. Right from the introductory track ‘Ho Ayam’ you are urged to don a psychedelic loin cloth and dance under the full moon playing the bongos with your tits. The London based quintet have created a sound that merges pop with ethnic, almost tribal music and it works very, very well.
Most of the tracks are predominantly created using layers of percussion, (‘mountain hut’ is a perfect example of this) combined with echoey synth and howling vocals to create what could very well be deemed as musical euphoria. As you listen, the relevance of the album title becomes apparent; each song emanates joy, and there is a collaborative jam like essence to the sound. This makes sense, as I believe the band formed after a brief 8 hour jam at ATP.
The album seems like a condensed and refined version of that original jam formation. You can appreciate each song as a well sculpted track at the same time as feeling obliged to pick up a tambourine and join in.
It is obvious that Flamingods are in love with music. Their album strikes me as a celebration of music, with little attempt to appeal to the masses by adding catchy ‘call me maybe’ esque choruses (it doesn’t work for everybody, Carly). The vocals are in fact not the focal point of any song on the album. They simply act as another instrument, or do not feature at all on tracks such as ‘Cacao’ which is a wonderful ukulele interlude that made me feel guilty about the one gathering dust in the corner of my room.
The only track I could perhaps link with more conventional pop is ‘Quesso’ chosen as their leading single back in October. It merges the previously heard ethnic drumming with slightly more prominent vocals, guitar and synth. It comes as a welcome break from the jamming and elevates the album I feel, hinting that there is a lot more to be expected from the band.
I don’t feel like I can fault this album whatsoever. Why should I? It is undeniably uplifting and peculiar in all the right ways, creating a style of dance music that doesn’t transport you to a mucky club surrounded by fat chicks doing slut drops, rather a tropical island where interpretive dance is acceptable.