The Golden Age of Apocalypse
South Los Angeles bass-playing virtuoso Stephen Brunner loved the ’80s cartoon Thundercat so much that he named himself after it. He’s better known as the bass player for Suicidal Tendencies and on the polar opposite; sideman for such artists as Snoop Dog and Erykah Badu, and edgy hipsters like Sa-Ra Creative Partners and J*DaVeY. We heard him last year on Flying Lotus’s Cosmogramma and in return FlyLo is behind the controllers for Brunner’s solo debut The Golden Age of Apocalypse.
“HooooooO” opens the ball as a short intro with a sample from the 80’s cartoon over a 70’s fusion clip before “Daylight” kicks in with a bumpy psychedelic pop beat with synthetic programming mashed with analog instruments and glockenspiel. Breezy and dreamy soulful vocals chants over the up-tempo rhythm; “Open your mind, daylight”. This is spaced out soul from a newly arrived time machine. “Fleer Ultra” follows as an analog fusion number with synthesized drums, flaunting electric bass and some late 70’s Herbie Hancock vibes. “Is It Love?” has a vulnerable and soulful feeling, like O’Donel Levy, with Rhodes and sax, floating on a jazz-funk vibe, but at the same time it sounds like a heavy rock ballad from the 80’s, and you’re expecting a guitar solo to arrive at any moment. “For Love I Come” is a stunning George Duke cover and it sound pretty much the same with almost identical vocals, just toned down in tempo and emotion. Brunner’s falsetto is as beautiful as his bass playing, and if this was the opening track, you would hear how it sets the tone for the rest of the album. A few instrumental electron-funk tracks follows, including the jammy and up-tempo “Jamboree” and “Boat Cruise“; an easy listening jazz number that sounds like a Leon Ware porn soundtrack, whom he’s actually toured Japan with. “Seasons” could easily have been a vintage MPB cut, and “Walkin” opens with full-on boogie drums and bass, and soulful high-pitched Michael McDonald-style pop vocals and a Minnie Ripperton-styled “lalalalalaala” chorus. Pure bliss. The record ends with the Japanese Samurai soundtrack resembling “Mystery Machine (The Golden Age of Apocalypse)” and “Return To The Journey” a psychedelic and slow jazz-funk number that makes you want to do exactly what the title suggests..
As a member of the Brainfeeder collective, it seems impossible to do anything unappealing. Stephen Brunner proves that here with an alternative, but highly accessible record where everything is tastefully executed. There’s no glossy production; it’s on the verge of lo-fi, sounding like a great home studio record like Peter Brown’s Do you wanna get funky with me. It appears as if you’ve got your hands on an early hidden fusion gem. The Golden Age of Apocalypse has an extremely rich and cosmic-like atmosphere, making you instantly reach for the repeat button. Stephen Brunner is no more a sideman; he’s a solid jazz cat that doesn’t need to jerk off with his bass wizardry.