By now we’ve all heard Kendrick Lamar‘s second album To Pimp A Butterfly that garnered rave reviews almost unanimously from critics. While Lamar is the narrator of a guide to what it means to be black in today’s America, the beats on the album were almost all produced or at the very least heavily influenced by “the creative epicenter of the album,” Thundercat.
The LA based jazz prodigy turned punk rocker turned Flying Lotus collaborator, government name Stephen Bruner, just quietly released a six song mini-album titled “The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam“. It’s an easily digestable work for even those who prefer their music less experimental, clocking in at only 16 minutes; you can listen to it almost three and half times in the time you spend watching one episode of Game of Thrones.
The album is a crazy mix of sounds ranging from deep velvet jazz bass to experimental synths straight from dance records. Bruner only recently became comfortable with singing and on this record, the follow up to 2013’s Apocalypse, he still largely masks his vocals through distortions and effects; the result is a eclectic mix of songs that work together in a vague, almost hazy way.
“I can’t feel my face/where’s this cold dark place?” sings Bruner on opening track “Hard Times; his crooning “I can feel you’re close around me/can you feel it around you?” opens the closing track “Where The Giants Roam/Fields of The Nephilim.”
The most straight forward groove on the album comes from the heavily Isley Brothers influenced “Them Changes” which rides an expansive and burbling funk synth riff to what amounts to an easy listening song for Thundercat.
The album itself feels like it’s largely a hold over for his growing fanbase while he works on something more weighty; while it is sonically diverse, the album lacks the substance to hold up as anything more than a footnote in an already great career.
You can listen to the six track EP below: