On "Oh Sheit It's X," the playful highlight from his second album, Stephen Bruner invites us to join him "in this ecstasy" – or is it "in this Ecstasy"? Either way, the singer-bassist-songwriter (dba Thundercat) is opening a door into a private world; no one this year has made an album as original as Apocalypse. With significant help from producer/Thom Yorke collaborator Flying Lotus, Apocalypse is both esoteric and outlandish, built around Bruner's rubbery, odd-metered bass-guitar excursions, sparse grooves and trippy falsetto musings. (Bruner has a legitimate jazz pedigree, but his virtuosity doesn't extend to the words on Apocalypse – lyrics like "Listen with your heart" and "It's all in your hands" sound like Steve Carell portraying a motivational speaker in a Paul Feig movie.) It's a bash-up of prog-rock, electronica and funk, in descending order of influence, and Bruner conjoins all of them to create a drifting, happily disorienting otherworld. This isn't an album, it's a terrarium.
From The Archives Issue 1186: July 4, 2013