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thundercat - Apocalypse
Brainfeeder's resident bass virtuoso and future-funk visionary Stephen Bruner returns with his second solo album, with Flying Lotus acting as executive producer. It's an ambitious and seductive set, kicking off with the pulsating cosmic R&B of 'Tenfold' and keeping the momentum, and invention, going all the way through. Bruner's palette is a carefully considered fusion of old and new: multitracked vocal harmonies, sequenced synth patterns, Rhodes keys, drums both live and programmed, and bass that achieves heights of superhuman liquidity on deep modern-day jazz-funk cuts like 'Special Stage' and 'Tron Song' (both of which feel aligned with 90s West London broken beat and nu-jazz than to the Brainfeeder nod-hop scene of today). The poppier lovers' cuts are nicely balanced by eerie instrumentals like 'The Life Aquatic', and there are some proper dancefloor burners too (the squelchy disco of E tribute 'Oh Sheit It's X') and detours into all-out avant-jazz on 'Seven' (think Joe Zawinul-meets-Van Dyke Parks) and the sumptuously symphonic 'A Message For Austin / Praise The Lord / Enter The Void'. It's rare to hear an album from this world that sounds as fresh yet classic, fun yet exploratory, and in control of its influences, as Apocalypse.