Growing up in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kamal Rasool, the founding member of acclaimed multi-continental-based psych rock act Flamingods has traveled widely to collect rate and unique instruments from Tanzania, the Amazon and elsewhere. When Rasool relocated to London to study music, he recruited a few friends from Bahrain and London to start a band, including the members of the band’s current lineup — Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe and Charles Prest. Interestingly, their first live show together was an attention-grabbing show at the 2010 ATP Festival, which quickly led to a national profile.
Building upon a growing profile, the members of Flamingods quickly released two EPs, 2010’s Sun and 2011’s Away. 2013’s full-length debut Sun was a reimagining of the material off the EP of the same name that featured “Quesso,” a collaboration with Ponytail‘s Dustin Wong on lead guitar. Around the time of the album’s release, the British government enacted new visa laws which forced Rasool to return to Bahrain after he finished school. Rasool then moved to Dubai, where he worked for an independent magazine and coffee shop. And although at that point, the members of the band were residing on different continents and unable to play together, they continued to work on new material that eventually wound up becoming their critically applauded Hyperborea, an album that established a globe-spanning take on psychedelia that the band has dubbed “Exotic Psychedelia.”
During the release of Hyperborea, Prest relocated to Dubai to work closely with Rasool. And shortly after that, the members of Flamingods began working on their third full-length album, 2016’s Majesty, an album that was largely inspired by the likes of Les Baxter, Tito Puente, Arthur Lyman and others. Although the album received mixed reviews, it was championed by BBC Radio 6‘s Gilles Peterson and Lauren Laverne, who both invited the band to record live sessions. With Rasool and Prest able to return to the UK, the band was finally able to extensively across the UK and the European Union to support the album, including sets at Green Man Festival, End of the Road Festival, and Fusion Festival.
In February 2017, the band signed with Moshi Moshi Records, who released that year’s Kewali EP and the band toured to support the album, including their SXSW debut. The band also released a remix album of Majesty that featured remixes of album material by Ibibio Sound Machine, Meridian Brothers and Oasis‘ Andy Bell. And the band released a Dan Carey-produced live version of “Hyperborea.”
Flamingods’ fourth, full-length album Levitation is slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Moshi Moshi Records, and the album is largely inspired by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds out of the Middle East and South Asia in the ’70s but while channeled through mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery. But perhaps much more important, the Levitation recording sessions found the band living and working on the same continent for the first time in about four years — and as a result, the album’s material may arguably be the most unified effort they’ve written and released in years. Now, as yo may recall, the album’s first single “Marigold” was a trippy bit of psych rock centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths delivered with a Brit Pop-like swagger. Interestingly, the album’s second single, album opening track “Paradise Drive” continues in a fairly similar vein as its predecessor, complete with a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths — but the song may arguably bear the most uncanny resemblance to Evil Heat-era Primal Scream; in fact, “Paradise Drive” reminds me quite a bit of one of my favorite Primal Scream songs, “Autobahn 66” but with a subtle disco element to it, complete with cowbell.