Thundercat – The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam [Brainfeeder, BFDNL055, USA, 2015]

  1. Hard Times (1:13)
  2. Song For The Dead (2:48)
  3. Them Changes (3:07)
  4. Lone Wolf And Cub (5:29)
  5. That Moment (0:43)
  6. Where The Giants Roam / Field Of The Nephilim (2:47)

Dopo due anni dal secondo lavoro solista Apocalypse, Thundercat dà vita ad un elegante e maturo mini-album di sei tracce, densissime di suoni come di contenuti emotivi. Questo lavoro suona come uno specchio del percorso strettamente personale di Bruner in questi anni, tristemente scanditi dalla scomparsa, da lui definita “follemente brutale”, di persone a lui molto intime, primo tra tutti l’amico/collega Austin Peralta. Disco di riflessione quindi sull’oscuro tema della morte, e sulla fredda ma lucida consapevolezza di essa, palesata in ognuno dei suoi testi. Percorso affrontato quasi contemporaneamente anche da Flying Lotus in You’re Dead!, a testimoniare il legame fraterno ed estremamente fertile tra i due autori. La famiglia Brainfeeder sembra interamente basata sui rapporti umani: in quasi ogni disco sono presenti collaborazioni tra più artisti dell’etichetta. “The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam” può infatti vantare la presenza di Flying Lotus (co-produttore) e Kamasi Washington (sassofono) in “Them Changes”, e di Mono/Poly in “Song For The Dead” e in “Lone Wolf And Cub”, qui affiancato dal grande Herbie Hancock alle tastiere. Nonostante queste ricche contaminazioni l’impronta musicale del disco resta unicamente quella di Bruner, a sottolineare la dimensione strettamente personale del lavoro.

Il mini-album si apre con “Hard Times”, breve introduzione che proietta bruscamente alla dimensione ultraterrena del disco, carica di atmosfere oniriche. Viene creata così una sonorità che guida in un vero e proprio viaggio durante l’ascolto, che con “Song For The Dead” sfocia nella più ritmata ricerca di una ‘via di casa’: percorso affatto semplice. “Them Changes” narra di un totale smarrimento, di solitudine, e nessuna fiducia verso ciò che è terreno. Temi ‘pesanti’, accompagnati da un fondo musicale molto groovy e felice, e così del tutto incorrelati al testo, con un risultato, a mio parere, incredibile. “Lone Wolf And Cub”, con Hancock, è un ipnotico sguardo sonoro al mondo terreno, dove una lupa, sola con il suo piccolo, diventa la metafora di una condizione esistenziale e immagine di una nuova forza, una ritrovata chiarezza mentale, con un carico di tensioni sonore. Le riflessioni del narratore continuano con una breve traccia strumentale, “That Moment”, per poi concludersi in “Where The Giants Roam/Field OF The Nephilim”. Chiusura quasi fiabesca, corredata da riferimenti biblici, che sembra condurre ad uno spiraglio di speranza, l’unico.

“The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam” è complessivamente completo, perfettamente risolto nel rapporto tra narrazione e composizione: Thundercat riesce a riproporre il funk/soul dei ’70s senza mai risultare noioso o anacronistico, riflettendo ogni volta un po’ più di sè stesso.


ENGLISH VERSION


Two years after his second solo work, Apocalypse, Thundercat gives birth to a classy and mature mini-album of six tracks, rich of different sounds and feels. This work appear to be as a mirror of Bruner’s emotional state of the period, sadly crossed by the, as he said, “insanely brutal” death of close people (first of all his colleague and close friend Austin Peralta). Therefore this album is a meditation on the obscure theme of death, and on the raw – yet clear-minded – awareness of it, which is reflected by the lyrics. This journey was also faced at the same time by Flying Lotus in You’re Dead!, and it testifies the fertile brotherhood between the two authors. Brainfeeder family seems to be entirely based on human relationships: in every album released by the label we can find lots of collaborations between the members. The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam vaunts the participation of Flying Lotus (co-production) and Kamasi Washington (saxophone) on “Them Changes”, and Mono/Poly in “Song For The Dead” and in “Lone Wolf And Cub”, here together with the great Herbie Hancock (keyboards). Even with this contaminations Thundercat’s fingerprint remains the predominant one, to enlight its strictly-personal dimension.

Somebody tell me how I’m supposed to feelWhen I’m sitting here knowing this ain’t real

The mini-album opens with “Hard Times”, a short introduction that projects us in the middle of an unearthly dimension, filled by dreamy atmospheres. It creates the sound of a real journey trough the album, which with “Song For The Dead” becomes a more rhythm-oriented research of a “way home”. That’s arduous: “Them Changes” tells us about total confusion, loneliness, hopelessness regarding everything that’s earthly. The heavy themes talked in the lyrics are surrounded by a groovy and basically happy musical background, such that they appear to be totally disjointed. Thundercat scores an amazing result, according to me. “Lone Wolf And Cub”, with Hancock, is a hypnotic soundscape description of the world. Here, a wolf with her pup becomes a metaphor of existence and an image of a new strenght, a new clear view of life, in a tensed musical atmosphere. The narrator’s reflections continue in a short instrumental piece called “That Moment”, then followed by “Where The Giants Roam / Field Of The Nephilim”. It’s almost a fairytale-like closure, dressed up with biblical references, that leads the listener to the only slice of hope that is possible to find.

“The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam” sounds like a fine work, in which narration and composition are perfectly combined. Thundercat manages to bring back 70’s funk/soul sound without being boring or anachronistic, always showing a bit more of himself.

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paynomindtous‘ co-founder & graphic designer, Cristina Ruggieri [1993, Alba, Italy] is currently studying sculpture at Accademia di Belle Arti in Turin, city where she lives. Beside messing around with materials and shaping stuff, she’s passionate about the overall listening experience, whether is it live or in her bedroom filled of stuffed animals.

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Cristina Ruggieri

paynomindtous' co-founder & graphic designer, Cristina Ruggieri [1993, Alba, Italy] is currently studying sculpture at Accademia di Belle Arti in Turin, city where she lives. Beside messing around with materials and shaping stuff, she's passionate about the overall listening experience, whether is it live or in her bedroom filled of stuffed animals.

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