Monday, August 29, 2011

Tasty Assessment - Thundercat 'The Golden Age of Apocalypse'

Thundercat is the pseudonym of legendary bass machine Stephen Bruner. You've probably heard Bruner before without realizing it as he's backed Snoop Dogg, Eryka Badu, Suicidal Tendencies and is prominently featured on Flying Lotus' epic Cosmogramma. Even if you were aware that it was Bruner on those tracks nothing could really prepare you for The Golden Age Of The Apocalypse. The debut album from Thundercat was co-produced and released by Flying Lotus and his Brainfeeder label (it drops tomorrow August 30th).

The album opens with a shout out to the cartoon Thundercats before breaking in to the single "Daylight". A dizzying bass line lays out the pocket for warm synth flurries and Bruner's jazzy falsetto. "It really Doesn't Matter To You" opens with some awesome chording on the bass. Bringing in a bass line under the chords and some chord roots come through loud and clear on some sort of saw bass that gradually morphs throughout. "Is It Love" brings dovetailing vocal lines and a groove that wouldn't be out of place on an OutKast track until the bass solo comes in making the track sound as if it might more at home on John Coltrane's Meditations. Bruner himself said in a 2008 Bass Player interview "I do believe that hip-hop can be the new jazz." Now he's done it.

 The Golden Age Of The Apocalypse sounds like the future. It is jazz, though it quite possibly won't be accepted by any elitist jazz purists. It is also hip-hop, although it ends up sounding more like Booker T. covering The Roots then enthusiasts might forgive. Thundercat is ahead of his time here. The sound world created contains a lot of familiar sounds but in combinations like never before. A kind of fusion (but not that 70's Fusion). This is true of the production as well. Some production techniques don't match the jazz idiom but there in lies their beauty. As a result, you must listen to this album through the best system you can find to really catch all the nuances. The production is out of this world. With so much happening in every track it's no easy task to carve out a space for each sound but that's what Bruner and FlyLo have done. Some of the synth sounds delicately straddle that line between hip and cheesy. When the beats drop in it can tend toward  more of a fleshed out Squarepusher odyssey. The song writing was also carefully crafted. It's clear that Bruner has a strong grasp of melody (even if it is all mainly in the lower register). He's taken music and flipped it on it's head. The bass does all the movement while the more traditional melodic instruments take on the rolls of rhythm and vamp. 

This cat really brings the thunder when he plays and he plays the shit of this album. Check out his cover of George Duke's "For Love I Come" (below) and get ready for this influential release. If your mind is a can then Bruner is the can opener.
Thundercat - For Love I Come by BRAINFEEDER

No comments:

Post a Comment