“It’s superficial, the way that you listen // Open your ears and your mind // Just take the time to look a bit deeper // You’d be surprised what you find inside.”
The opening stanza of Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner’s song “Evangelion” is a contemplative bounce offering excellent advice on how to deal with both life and his latest album. The record, which was composed following the death of close friend and former Brainfeeder affiliate Austin Peralta, is a telling tale about personal loss and coming to terms with it. With Thundercat’s infamous six-stringed bass leading the tone of the album and co-producer Flying Lotus keeping equilibrium with his signature percussion ,the album is a refined effort that drowns genre divisions in a sea of sounds.
There are multiple ways to dive in. You can swim, float or sink into “The Life Aquatic,” where the duo teams up for the first of the albums instrumental offerings, or you can level up to the more optimistic “Special Stage,” where Thundercat and FlyLo take you on a mellow ride that is something like cruising along rainbow road with the top down. On the reassuring “Tron Song,” Flying Lotus’ bouncy production melds with the harmony of Thundercat’s airy vocals, becoming nearly pulse-like.
In addition to “Tron Song,” the album offers another largely instrumental track by the name of “Seven.” Taking a page out of the late Dave Brubeck‘s book, Thundercat and Flylo churn out a mind-blowing prog-rock jam with a tricky seven-four (7/4) time signature. Then they lightly strut into the undeniably funky “Oh Sheit It’s X.” Based on a true story, this space-age jam is sure to have you dancing in ecstasy.
And as if the combined talents of the Brainfeeder music wizards wasn’t enough, they also enlist the help of Thomas Pridgen of The Mars Volta. Pridgen offers up a killer drum solo on “Lotus and the Jondy”, solidifying the fact that this isn’t your run of the mill Soul/Electronica offering. Dancing from soul to prog rock to jazz and back, the album showcases the possibilities that emerge when an artist is willing to shun the limitations of genres.
Most interesting is how, building on personal experiences, Thundercat finds a way to directly yet delicately address the subject of death, reminding you to “do your best” through it all on the short but sweet, “We’ll Die.” That heartfelt offering leads right into a charged symphony titled “Message for Austin.“ With the spirit of friend and collaborator Austin Peralta looming nearby, the records closing track “Enter the Void” combines some ritualistic percussion and softly chiming bells. Strangely, that combination perfectly loops back into the album’s start, encouraging you to drift back over the previous eleven tracks to take the journey once again.
Apocalypse is an eclectic ride that has something to offer everybody,from those who have experienced loss to those eager for the next leg of life’s journey. The careful blurring of genre’s display both Thundercat’s expansive talents and his progression since his debut album. Available now for digital purchase here, the Vinyl and CD versions of Apocalypse are set to release June 9th. If you don’t already have your digital version, you’d be advised to grab a hard copy and take this musical journey.
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