Over the last couple of years, Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner has seen his profile grow both nationally and internationally. As a bassist, Bruner effortlessly manages a propulsive, throbbing, sensual funk and a delicate, passionate sensitivity in a way that channels two of the greatest bassists of the past 50 years – Jaco Pastorius and Bootsy Collins. Produced by Flying Lotus, Bruner’s sophomore effort, Apocalypse was released to critical praise as it possessed elements of spacey, futuristic funk, mid 70s soul, pop, prog rock and jazz fusion and meshed them all in a slinky, seductive fashion.
2015 has been a rather productive year for Bruner as he contributed to two of the most critically applauded albums to date this year, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, and Bruner spent part of the year writing and recording the material that would comprise his recently released mini-album Where the Giants Roam (which, interestingly enough, a musician of mine, whose tastes align with mine on a lot of things, has recently raved about on Facebook). The mini-album (wait isn’t that an EP?)’s first single “Them Changes” consists of wobbling and propulsive bass chords that are reminiscent of old school Stevie Wonder, (in other words, futuristic but seemingly coming from an old, rusty spaceship that’s travelled several hundred light-years across the universe) paired with cymbal-led four-on-the-floor-like percussion, Bruner’s silky croon, arpeggio keyboard chords, swirling electronics and towards the last 35 seconds of the song, Kamasi Washington’s saxophone comes in with a warm blast before the song fades out. At the core of the song is a narrator, whose heart has been ripped out and broken by some careless, thoughtless person, leaving the narrator to stagger around in a confused daze as they try to put the pieces back together – sometimes rather unsuccessfully. Most of us, at this point in our lives had been through something similar a couple of of times, if not once. And yet, somehow we all kind of push forward blindly.