Thundercat The Golden Age of the Apocalypse(Brainfeeder) Buy it from Insound
Thundercat revels in funk. His debut full length, Golden Age of the Apocalypse, is awash in it. He and production ace Flying Lotus have teamed up to bathe your eardrums in bouncy synthesizers, chopped up drum beats, layered bass lines and old school samples. It sounds like 1990’s Squarepusher teaming up with George Clinton.
Thundercat is a downright incredible bassist; few can combine a feel for rhythm and melody like he can. The line between the two often blurs. In Is It Love?, he holds both at the same time with Jaco Pastorius style chords and harmonics laid over simple down low plucking. He lets loose a great jazzy solo towards the end of the same song. He uses effects pedals with gleeful abandon. The numerous disguises he wraps his bass in allow him to play far more parts per song without sounding cluttered and add a huge amount of depth to the record. It’s tough to layer bass parts without sounding cluttered, but Thundercat effortlessly avoids the potential mess.
Flying Lotus also has a huge amount to do with the layering and sonic variety present here. His fingerprints are everywhere, from the seamless transitions between songs (Is It Love? and For Love I Come showcase that and his penchant for orchestral flourishes) to the unexpected turns the beats take in Jamboree. He takes some production cues from Squarepusher, most notably the liberal use of the Amen break paired with speedy bass playing. Lotus’s beats, however, have far more life to them. Unlike Squarepusher, he does not simply loop beats. He plays them and layers them by hand, lending them a far more lifelike quality and adding much needed variation. It’s one of the many things that make him so great, and it’s as present on Golden Age as it’s been on any of his solo albums.
The two of them teamed up previously on Lotus’s 2010 masterwork Cosmogramma to some great effect, and their collaboration continues to astound. A master producer and one of the world’s most gifted bassists can, together, make for a relaxing yet thrilling ride through a laid back funk universe. It’s been a pretty solid year for electronic music thus far, and this comfortably sits with the best.25 August, 2011 - 16:45 — Andrew Baer