With a blooming positivity and genuine feeling throughout its 39 minutes, The Apocalypse is anything but a cataclysmic event.
Thundercat is Stephen Bruner, a freakishly talented session bassist/jack of all genres, whose prodigious skills on the four-string saw him become a part of Erykah Badu’s live band and also a member of Suicidal Tendencies. He’s now doing his own thing under the sassy moniker of Thundercat, and his sophomore effort The Apocalypse is such an honest, gifted experiment – like the recordings of a high school jazz maven who jammed out after getting high for the first time.
Bruner is the live bassist for – and good friend of – beat-making mastermind and quasi-rapper Flying Lotus, who helped produce The Apocalypse. Thankfully, Lotus does not take over; he acts merely as a beacon for Bruner’s vision – a vision unhampered by song structures or time signatures, instruments or genres.
Thundercat’s voice is light and husky, and the album’s been produced so that his voice is the same level as the music rather than more prominent in the mix. Like the versatile instrumentation, Bruner uses his voice beautifully and manipulatively, through harmonies, reverb and off-kilter lyrics. His vocal lines and style are clean and uncluttered, threading clarity through the album amongst the cosmos of ambiance and experimentation.
From the bubbly funk of ‘Oh Sheit It’s X’ to the Mushroom Fields Forever vibe on ‘Lotus And The Jondy’, Bruner shows his willingness to do anything – from indulgent jazz drum solos (‘Lotus And The Jondy’) and Wes Anderson references ‘The Life Aquatic’ to the most confusingly angelic chorus on ‘Tron Song’: “Don’t you ever leave me turbocharged”.
BY RAF SENEVIRATNE
The Apocalypse is out now through Brainfeeder.