Brainfeeder is probably not a label that most people are familiar with, but I doubt that will be the case in the next couple of years. The label is the brainchild of Flying Lotus, a producer whose output is hard to define, with equal references to hip hop, experimental electronica and Jazz.
I was introduced to the world of Flying Lotus quite a few years ago when he released his album Los Angeles through legendary label Warp, which made me curious enough to explore further and begin following the releases he started pushing on Brainfeeder.
Though the label’s output is just as varied as Flying Lotus himself, there is only one artist that has made Flying Lotus move into the traditional role of the ‘producer’– Thundercat. It’s the alias of Stephen Bruner, an extremely accomplished bassist that has played with artists such as Snoop Dogg, Earl Sweatshirt and Suicidal Tendencies.
In 2011, Flying Lotus convinced Bruner to record his debut album, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, which received acclaim from critics and even a tip of the hat from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea (Thundercat supported them on their 2012 US Tour). Though his musical past had largely been playing in the background, it was the ability of Flying Lotus and Thundercat to bring together all of his musical ideas that revealed his genius, someone who could bring melody and atmosphere together largely with one instrument, his amazing vocals, and some great production from a variety of Brainfeeder artists.
“For Love I Come” – From The Golden Age of Apocalypse
When Flying Lotus announced that Thundercat’s follow-up, Apocalypse, would be out this year, it was hard for me to see how his debut could be topped. However, the loss of Brainfeeder artist Austin Peralta seemed to serve as a blueprint for this album – a masterpiece that focuses on loss and a search for meaning, something Bruner admits had been at the forefront going into this record.
Apocalypse differs from Thundercat’s debut, in that it creates a world that it stays in for it’s entirety, making the album feel like one continuous experience. Flying Lotus’ recent commentary on the creation of the record mentions this and it’s amazing how the album truly takes you to a place that feels “underwater and in the shadows”, even with the use of a lot of live instrumentation. There’s influence from video game music (samples from Sonic in ‘Special Stage’ and melodic references in ‘The Life Aquatic’), Jazz (‘Seven’), and even Flying Lotus leaves his percussive mark on ‘Tron Song’, a surprisingly powerful and emotional track about Thundercat’s Cat.
The first half of the album features mostly upbeat tracks which subside into more free flowing jams as the album closes, but it’s impossible to pick this album apart for particular tracks. As far as I’m concerned, this album has one track, Apocalypse, and the bits you hear on this page are teasers. Thundercat quite frankly is doing music that’s extremely difficult to put into words because just like his debut, I don’t believe anyone has done what he is doing before. You can compare individual tracks to a combination of different influences but overall, this album is breaking new ground for a label that has that mantra across its catalogue.
When there is this much energy in something new it doesn’t matter what scene you’re in or what you listen to. You need to hear this album. Apocalypse is out now on iTunes.