Review of 'Apocalypse" by Thundercat by Northern Transmissions





The music imprint of Los Angeles has evolved in the past half-decade through the unique fingerprint of the beat-centric electronic label Brainfeeder. Labelhead Flying Lotus championed the label’s avant-garde profile with the release of the densely rhythmic, astral jazz album Cosmogramma, featuring compatriot and bass collaborator Stephen Bruner, a.k.a. Thundercat, filling a nearly impossible role. Bruner intertwines his robustly curvaceous bass through resonant, buoyant harmonies and punctuated melodies that float in-and-around the groove, adding rhythmic and melodic dimensions that are the threading to the Flying Lotus needle in the Brainfeeder fabric.

On Thundercat’s debut album Golden Age of Apocalypse (produced by Flying Lotus), the duo forged a shimmering, nebulous extension of their astral jazz-soul fusion as Bruner’s near-falsetto soul-inflected vocals advanced a pop-centric playfulness. On Apocalypse, Thundercat is more confident in the bandleader position, forgoing a soaring quality to craft a more direct and weighted album with decisive narratives and atmospheres projected through the Cosmogramma lens. Apocalypse was unfortunately marked by the untimely passing of protégé keyboard player Austin Peralta, a Brainfeeder comrade and collaborator. The album creates a work for Bruner to vocalize his love and gratitude to his friend and their broader music family.

Groove-tacular stand out track “Oh Sheit Its X” outpaces Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” as a summer anthem with its heavy-hitting funk beat, woozy burbling bass, and exultant vocals that channel Prince on the chorus line “you should be here with me in this X-sta-sea”. The punchy 2nd track, “Heartbreaks & Setbacks” moves with a flickering hi-hat dance beat, squelchy synth melodies, and punctuated, groove-laden bass. “Without You” offers a sleeper-hit with languorous striding rhythms, a Fender Rhodes underbelly, warbling phased-out bass melodies, and wiry synth hooks. The closer medley track “Message for Austin” starts with 808-constructed beats, chopped opulent string samples, and tender vocals in tribute to his lost friend. The closing minutes of “Praise the Lord / Enter the Void” are a sublime work of solemnity with wooden-clockwork percussions, resplendent chimes, and Thundercat’s wooden timbre bass in restrained flurries.

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