Growing up in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kamal Rasool, the founding member of acclaimed multi-continental-based psych rock act Flamingods traveled widely and collected 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 and 2013’s full-length debut Sun, 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 moved to Dubai, where he worked for an independent magazine and coffee shop. Although the members of the band were 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 to Rasool. The band quickly 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 was 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 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, making 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. Additionally. the band released a Dan Carey-produced live version of “Hyperborea.”
The acclaimed act’s fourth, full-length album Levitation is slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Moshi Moshi Records, and interestingly, the album is largely inspired by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds out of the Middle East and South Asia in the ’70s but channeled through mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery. Interestingly, the album’s recording sessions found the band living and working in the same continent for the first time in about four years — and as a result, the album’s material has a unified feel. Levitation’s first single “Marigold” is a trippy and sunny bit of psych rock centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and while delivered with a self-assured swagger, the song sonically reminds me of Evil Heat-era Primal Scream.
Directed by Barbu.TV, the recently released video was shot during a trip the band made to Oman — in particular, the remote city of Nizwa, known for a gang of vintage motorbike riding youths — and the trip involved hazardous border crossing, self-made ornate, denim jackets. Additionally the video features some innovative camerawork and some appropriately hypnotic animation. As the band’s Kamal Rasool says of the video, “We had heard about this gang of motorbike riding youths through our friend [photographer] Ali Al Sharji and knew immediately that we wanted to make a music video with them. They live in a remote city in Oman called Nizwa and have had these vintage bikes passed down from generation to generation. The police aren’t so fond of them but they are some of the nicest guys we’ve ever met. We joined them riding through the city and had a proper road trip along the way with the Barbu. TV guys, exploring through deserts, mountains, skate parks, palm groves and old monuments. I think the motion of them riding the bikes melded with the motorik groove of the song perfectly and the sun-soaked environment was just what we needed to capture the song’s themes”