Though less immediately gratifying than its breathless predecessor, Thundercat’s sophomore effort slowly reveals itself as a disorienting and dark step upwards by the ferociously talented musician.
A tribute to his late friend, jazz pianist Austin Peralta, Apocalypse palpably reflects on life and death whilst further exploring the possibilities of the bassist’s signature dizzying arrangements.
Long time collaborator Flying Lotus played a big part in this record and his influence seeps noticeably through its pores. It’s also very much the work of the Flying Lotus who made Cosmogramma, his mind bendingly complex journey into jazz fused psychedelic electronica.
Apocalypse takes the surreal headspace of Ellison’s masterpiece and gives it a pop edge and the result is a collection of unpredictable songs that feel like they could collapse at any second. It makes for thrilling and fascinating listening. It’s a perfectly weighted record.
Drifting instrumental interludes build to moments of complete catharsis with one remarkable exception, the darkness that surrounds Apocalypse is punctured dramatically by the danceable centrepiece “Oh Sheit It’s X”.
It was a startling track when it first surfaced, but heard in context, when it breaks through the bleakness of all that surrounds it, you feel like you’ve just accidentally walked into the biggest party imaginable.
The album is lowered back to earth as Bruner sings the short and devastating “We’ll Die”. The album could easily end there, but instead it re-escalates into “A Message For Austin/ Praise The Lord/ Enter The Void” a hopelessly beautiful and optimistic track that promises Peralta they will one day meet again. It then unfolds into the most melodically stable thing he’s ever done.
At the end of a record packed with bizarre chord progressions and unexpected twists it’s a warm and comforting moment, one that reveals the deliberate nature of all that came before it and cements Apocalypse as a truly brilliant return.
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