My first reaction when I saw the cover artwork of the forthcoming Thundercat album was this: This is madness! It wasn’t my intention to quote lines from Frank Miller, but the express joy at its most extreme. If this new record is half as mad, as in genius, as that look on Stephen Bruner’s face, he will easily surpass all the expectations one could have for that record. The list of collaborators seem to confirm we’re on the right track: Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, and Kenny Loggins. That’s right, Kenny Loggins!
Titled “Drunk”, the new album will hit stores on February 24th, accompanied by an extended world tour. Pre-order here!
Every now and then, Santa Monica’s KCRW radio station hosts live-sessions from musicians we love. Their latest addition is LA-native bass-player Thundercat, who I should have to introduce to any of you. Outside of his solo-work, he has gained a great following in recent years through his collaborations with Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu and Kendrick Lamar.
It was a bit of short notice, just before the weekend, that Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label announced the release of a new mini-album by fellow bass player and singer Thundercat. Among the six tracks on “The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam”, there is the wonderful track you can hear above.
So, if you’re not madly into Thundercat’s work already, this should serve as an excellent appetizer. Available from the NinjaShop, Bleep or iTunes. Digital only from what it looks like — sad face.
Flying Lotus told the story behind each track on his new album You’re Dead! on his Twitter feed:
“Theme” was really what led to following through w the concept (1). Originally called “Jodorowsky” (2). Kamasi and me really built this one (3).
“Tesla”. Was so much fun cuz it was when Herbie [Hancock] and me and Thunder started things up (4). This moment spawned the rest of it (5). This song was the spark of the album. Which is why I wanted it close to the front. Most of this album feels like it’s chronological (6). For the most part everything was recorded separately n my home. I’d work w musicians like samples (7).
“Cold Dead” started from a iPhone voice memo. I sang the ideas and Thunder helped me bring it to life (8). All those operatic voices n this are me singing thru some toys (9).
“Fkn Dead” was the hardest to make. Trying to find the balance of live drums and sampled drums (10). Me singing textures again on this. Brandon Coleman killed it (11). None of this album would be possible without Thundercat (12). He and I came up w the concept (13).
“Never Catch Me“. Kendrick came thru and recorded to this song at the crib. Came alone. With a hoodie over his head. Ready to work (14). He wrote it on the spot and laid it down (15). I sang this part to him and he recorded it. He killed it (16). The second half of this song was called “Ramen Wars” (17). One of the most fun days ever (18). All these layer vocal ideas at the middle and end were inspired by Queen (19).
“Dead Man’s Tetris”. This might be the oldest beat on the album (20). Hard for me to write to my own beats. This was the hardest (21). That’s Earl Sweatshirt saying shit n the background sometimes (22). Snoop’s part almost didn’t work so I had to rework the beat at his moment (23). He was really into the concept. He was like. “U know I made a song like this called murder was the case” ummm. Yea I heard of it (24). Joker cameo (25).
“Turkey Dog Coma” is the most complex arrangement I’ve ever made (26). Another one made with me and Thunder. I sat next to him and we sang all these moments part for part (27). Miguel wrote some strings. Brendan Small does this Brian May like riff around this part (28). There’s so many recordings in this song (29). There was a point where this was the last song on the album (30).
“Stirring” I made with a friend named Jeff Lynne he and I went to high school together and we reconnected and did this song (31). A friend of ours had passed away recently and it made me want to do something dedicated to him. Rip Nick Terry (32).
“Coronus, The Terminator” is special to me for so many reasons. First song I made in my new home. First song I really went for the singing (33). Niki Randa always makes me sound good tho (34). Mac Miller came thru when we were workin on this beat. He wanted it for himself. Almost considered that (35). I literally wrote this song off top. About the Terminator (36). It’s playfully serious (37). The ending part is so coo (38).
“Siren” song was originally intended for Pharrell. I imagine the pocket still (39). I love the way it worked out tho. Angel Arlene and Niki worked this one out really fast. I wrote the draft and it just blossomed (40). I have trouble opening up this session now. It’s corrupted. So. This is it (41). This part is Thunder’s fav part of the album (42).
“Turtles” was the one that almost didn’t make it on the album (43). Such a big Morricone. Sample. I thought it would be more trouble to keep it than it was worth. I’m glad I did because I really do like it (44). People keep telling me they love turtles makes me die laughing. (45). I almost had Laura Darlington sing on this but I think there’s charm in the simplicity of it (46).
“Ready Err Not” is my mischief song (47). There will be a video for it from one of my favorite animators of all time (48). There’s a version of this song with Chance the Rapper freestyling on it it was real dope too. I sometimes play it in my live show (49).
“Eyes Above” was made in a funny situation (50). I made this beat with FKA Twigs and Niki Randa in studio (51). Kendrick has a verse on this song that can’t come out I guess (52). “Eyes Above” without Kendrick still breaks my heart (53).
“Moment of Hesitation” was started with me and Kamasi. He’s a horn player but had him on the keys with Herbie too (54). Herbie just came thru and killed it (55). It was dope to introduce him to Dilla’s music/sample flips (56).
“Descent Into Madness” was Thundercat’s song I hijacked (57). He started it and I begged him to let me finish this song. I had visions instantly (58).
“The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep” Was gonna be on the Cap album (59). I tried to my best Dr Rockso impression (60). I never had a drug overdose by the way. Re: That Fader story (61). Vicodin is the new heroin (62). Austin. . . (63)
There’s a version of “Obligatory Cadence” with me singing about a dream I had once about a deity who took me into the clouds and showed me.. (64) a world without darkness (65). All my fam and friends were there. Watching me being taken into the sky. The deity shed it’s light on the earth. The light was almost silver (66). She told me that I’d never ever die (67).
“The Beyond” is dedicated to an unborn child (68). A light (69). Fantastic Planet [La planète sauvage] inspired this song. Musically (70).
“The Protest”. Is the most important statement of the record. It’s the spirits gathered. Remembering we never die (71) Our influence lives on forever. Our love lives on forever (72).
I knew that when I set out to make this record I’d lose some people with the concept but I didn’t do this shit to be crowd pleasing (73). What ever happens, I know I did what I set out to do (74). With minor heartbreaks (75). Truth be told going the ‘easy way’ is tempting sometimes but I was like fuck it I’m gonna make something only I can put together (76). A lil self indulgent? absolutely. Thats kinda the point. If you ask me. I had to tell my story! (77)
So it’s here, as everybody on the planet already knows the new Flying Lotus album You’re Dead! is out now on Warp Records. In the last couple of weeks, I was overcome by the same awkward feeling that returns whenever there’s news about an album by Los Angeles native producer Steve Ellison. It’s an unsettling mix of fear, doubt and skepticism. What if he might has lost it, sold out. The big marketing machinerey surrounding such an event certainly plays its little part in this, for I don’t really care about those leaked tracks. Especially when I know a Flying Lotus track is best enjoyed in the context of the full album it’s released on — which at this point is still weeks away.
Anyway, I’m glad to say that there’s nothing to fear or doubt, Mr. Ellison outpaced everything you had in your books, doing it in such ease. So this is his jazz record? It’s what a jam session with Thundercat, Herbie Hancock, and rappers Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and alter ego Captain Murphy sounds like? The Kendrick Lamar collaboration is a good example for those feelings I described in my intro, for I have to say I wasn’t exactly blown away when I heard it for the first time. But now it works so much better hearing it in the context of the full record. There are a lot favourites to choose from, yet interestingly for me it’s those little interludes with just him and Thundercat noodling on the bass, that I love the most. Well, „Coronus, The Terminator” has been a charmer before (by the why, who is singing on there?) and “The Protest” is an equal masterpiece.
You can buy your copy of „You’re Dead!” just about everywhere (Boomkat, iTunes, I said everywhere!) or stream it on Spotify. There’s an limited box set including the instrumental LP and I think you can only buy it on the Warp-associated Bleep store.
Taken from his 2013 album Apocalypse, watch this hilarious new video Thundercat video directed by Adult Swim’s Eric André. VHS, Mortal Kombat, cats and lots of love (and laughs) — what else do you need?
Before people wasted their time one Facebook, they did so on a site called MySpace. And while Facebook is already on its own decline, Justin Timberlake is putting his money on the “new” MySpace. A year and a half after the MySpace relaunch, I actually ended up on the site for the first time to watch the new Thundercat video you can see above (unless you’re on a mobile device–how about that, Justin?)
Directed by Mochilla co-founder Brian Cross (aka B+) on California’s Bombay Beach, the music is taken from Thundercat’s 2013 album Apocalypse and spans over two of its wonderful songs.
Off Main St. is a new “long-format music series dedicated to documenting musicians” and the first artist covered is Brainfeeder’s Thundercat. Watch the bassplayer as he talks about his comic book obsession, how he got his name, visiting Amoeba Music and playing music at The Echoplex.
We’re excited to hear that the follow-up to Thundercat’s brilliant The Golden Age of Apocalypse is only a couple of months away. Together with the track you can hear above, Brainfeeder shared the news with Pitchfork alongside a full tracklist and forthcoming live dates. Titled Apocalypse, the new record is once again produced by Flying Lotus and will be out on July 8th (July 9th in the U.S.)
And that doesn’t seem to be the end of the line, as Lotus announced working on a fusion album next.
It’s been a long busy week with hardly any time near my laptop, so there has been surprisingly few articles lately. Music-wise I’ve been on a jazz tip with Joe Henderson and Alice Coltrane giving the best of company. Now I’m back at the computer, but I still can’t let go off the jazz.
To be honest, I haven’t heard about saxophonist Kamasi Washington until half an hour ago, but I much enjoyed this live performance of his ten piece band at LA’s Blue Whale in the video. Among the band are familiar faces such as Steve Bruner aka Thundercat and his brother Ronald on drums.
If you’re on Twitter, your stream was probably flooded with tweets about the new Flying Lotus track for the Adult Swim Singles Program. Well, lots of hype but is it that good? I clearly prefer the instrumental version with Brainfeeder co-conspirator Thundercat, which popped up on FlyLo’s SoundCloud earlier today.
Unfortunately, the instrumental isn’t available for download, which brings us back to the vocal version of Between Friends – if you don’t want to leave empty handed.
Instead of making a sad face over not being able to see him (and Floating Points) play in London tonight, I searched for Thundercat videos on YouTube and came across this one.
This was recorded for the BBC sometime last year in Los Angeles. The track is, of course, taken from Flying Lotus’ 2010 album Cosmogramma. Not sure who’s playing with Thundercat there, but I take it the drummer is his brother Ron Bruner.
Oh, that Thundercatalbum, a true modern classic. I don’t know about you, but I’m still listening to it on a regular basis. Now there’s an official video for Walkin’ in case you need a reminder of the album’s brilliance.
If you still haven’t got yourself a copy, order it straight from Bleep or iTunes!
Happy New Year to all of my readers, I hope 2012 will be a good one. It should easily be better than last year, at least when it comes to my private life: in 2011 I was robbed and later I suffered an ear stroke, possibly as a late reaction to the robbery. But well, we’re not talking about my private life so much, let’s talk about music!
In the first year of this blog, I wrote an article on best-of lists and I still think they’re kinda ridiculous. However, I also think it can be of benefit for those who only read this blog every now and then and wonder what good music they might have missed. I tried to limit each list to 5 items, because otherwise I wouldn’t know where to stop as 2011 was another year of rich releases. So without further ado, here are my personal top releases.