If this album is a soundtrack to the apocalypse, I might not mind so much after all… What better way to end the world? You might know bassist Thundercat (also known as Stephen Bruner) for his session work with neo-soul singer Erykah Badu or Stanley Clarke, or maybe you’ve heard him in Suicidal Tendencies. On this album, he worked with eclectic producer and remixer Flying Lotus for the second time, whose credits include Radiohead and even music for Cartoon Network’s series, Adventure Time. His diverse musical background can be heard in Apocalypse, which starts with the spaced-out, DJ Spooky-esque “Tenfold” and then wavers from gritty urban ambience to soul in “Heartbreaks + Setbacks.” Moving further into the album, he gives us a little prog with the manic-yet-precise, “Seven.” It is unexpected, but it works. We’re even reminded of his work on Eryakh Badu’s New Amerykah with the neo-soul strains of “Without You,” which is just fast enough to keep its groove, but not fast enough to lose its hypnotic quality. Despite spanning so many musical stylings, the album is cohesive and well-paced. The last track is “A Message for Austin/Praise the Lord/Enter the Void,” a touching tribute to Thundercat’s close friend Austin Peralta (pro skateboarder Stacy Peralta’s son), a jazz pianist who died at age 22 from pneumonia.
Apocalypse handles the tragedy of Peralta’s death beautifully; it manages to be dark and real without being depressing. Through it all, there’s an undercurrent of hope that every end can also be the beginning of something new, as it’s an excellent example of Thundercat’s personal growth and his work with Flying Lotus.