Specially made for a long, hot, daydream-filled summer.
Colin Buttimer 2011-08-16
Thundercat is bass-playing Los Angeles native Stephen Brunner. If the name's unfamiliar, know that he's played bass for Suicidal Tendencies, Sa-Ra Creative Partners and latterly Flying Lotus (on Cosmogramma). In return, FlyLo is on production duty for The Golden Age of Apocalypse, Brunner’s solo debut under this moniker. In addition to Sa-Ra staff, the album features guest luminaries including Erykah Badu, J*DaVeY and Brunner's drummer brother Ronald Jr. Entering Thundercat's world may make you believe the last 30 years didn't happen. Think Roy Ayers, George Duke and Billy Cobham – back we travel. And forwards, too, swathed all the while in pure analogue loveliness.
The record – and it really should be a record, in a big gatefold sleeve – opens in Technicolor cinematic mode. You can almost see the flashing disco lights and dry ice blowing voluminously across the stage: that's Hoooooooo, complete with its seven 'o's. Any fewer would be a crime. The next track, Daylight, is almost impossibly fat and fiddly, a dense slab of sped-up ultra-jazz funkiness cooked up deliberately, surely, to make listeners' heads spin. Song number four asks Is It Love? It's a little early to tell, a question best asked towards the end of the album, but there's certainly a strong attraction in the air. Whatever, it features an impossibly fly bass solo.
No moment is quite like the last. Before the listener knows it, Thundercat deposits them into soft clouds of Fender magnificence, tickles heels with indulgent guitar and soothes brows with an angelic choir or two. The syncopated shuffle of drums on It Really Doesn't Matter to You gets married to blissful harmonies, which in turn are wed to marshmallow synths.
Just close your eyes and picture the cover of Herbie Hancock's 1974 LP Thrust, albeit with Brunner at the controls, and follow his trajectory as he flies that synthesizer spaceship over purple Mayan ruins. Don't worry, you know he'll land safely – but only after you've had a lot of fun along the way. The Golden Age of Apocalypse seems specially made for a long, hot, daydream-filled summer. Here's hoping.