3 LPs – Thundercat / Blue Daisy / Zed Bias

New RA chart just gone up, thought I’d throw some light on 3 LPs that’ve made an amazing soundtrack in the last few weeks and months.

Out on the Flying Lotus run Brainfeeder label, Thundercat comes correct with some proper 21st century jazz styles, offered up on his debut album under this moniker, The Golden Age Of Apocalypse. Unlike his label boss who started as a DJ with a laptop, Thundercat aka Stephen Brunner comes from a live music background, playing bass for Suicidal Tendencies in a former life, and even then getting props for his work on tour with them. 


A large part of me wants to be in a room with Shuggie Otis with this on the radio. If he were still on the LA scene him and Thundercat would no doubt have many late nights discussing music and jamming. With the hype and the hipsters surrounding this album I really didn’t expect this much soul to come through on it but it’s all about the offbeat basslines, no doubt an easy comparison to the early work of Bootsy or Victor Wooten and the way they made a name composing around their instrument of choice.


The tracks themselves are just beautiful, other worldly and absolutely moving in some parts. The combination of live jazzy drum patterns, funk bass harmonics and the soul of the rhodes just blend together perfectly, creating a balanced but dream like sonic experience. Thundercat’s vocals are hardly distinguishable pushed to the back to work as another instrument as opposed to taking the spotlight off the musical work.


I’m not sure on the surrounding circumstances that led to the metal bassman coming to release something like this on Brainfeeder, but big ups to FlyLo for seeing the potential in his music and bringing us this album.


For whatever reason, The Sunday Gift doesn’t feel like a debut album for Blue Daisy. He’s been smacking us around the bass sphere, evolving his own sound and twisting things up for a good few years now, dropping a handful of EPs and constantly topping himself with live shows, production and remixes. It feels like he’s one of the older heads in the scene, though Strings Detached (my first Blue Daisy record) was only 2009. None of this could have prepared us for The Sunday Gift full length though, out now on Black Acre.


At no stage does Blue Daisy hit a wall and stutter in to mediocrity with the intensity and emotion he’s layered in to his work. Not a single moment sounds phoned in, with tracks such as Raindance and Shadow Assasins sitting at around the 5 minute mark, individually each one is a complete journey as Blue Daisy builds and strips elements (never duplicating the style though), shaping the beat around the samples then seemingly doing it vice-versa. I’m imagining he most have spent some serious time in the lab sewing together and experimenting to get these right. A lazier artist may have turned these in to three or four individual ‘beats’, but Blue Daisy’s representing some heady futuristic sounds, letting the tracks take on a life of their own. Together though, they manage to hit the next level, which is another side of this album that remains undiscovered until you’ve listened all the way through a few times.


Proper boundary pushing in electronic music, with feet equally placed in hip-hop and experimental dance music from the ’90s – a stunning combination. Anneka (who he collaborated with on the Raindrops EP last year) makes a few appearances as a vocalist and as always works brilliantly over Blue Daisy’s production, as does Stac (who he remixed for Wah Wah a little while back) who also makes an appearance on the guest tip. For those that like their instrumental albums broken up by vocals, it ‘s the featuring of Hey!Zeus on Psyche Inquiry that’s a definite highlight though. Big ups to all those involved in getting this one out there.


Out to Tru Thoughts, who’ve been teasing us about this LP for time. As far as I know, Biasonic Hotsauce – Birth Of The Nanocloud is the first Zed Bias full length in about four years. Really excited from first listen to the tenth time it played it through.

No matter what genre you want to put him in, Zed’s always about the warm basslines and shuffling hi-hats. He just does it better than anyone else in dance. Possibly to do with the high level of collaboration on it, the diversity of Nanocloud is simply staggering, putting his own signature touch over a variety of rhythms. He even manages to slip in some boogie funk on Nightlovers and a blinding reworking of Soul2Soul with a Jenna G offering the vocal on Fairplay. There’s enough nostalgia from his bread and butter of the garage and broken beat years, including an updated Neighbourhood reworking and a host of MCs featuring on some classic sounding kits. Instead of played out, the structures sound fresh, a testament to Zed always pushing himself out there, as he’s shown us over the years with projects like Maddslinky, working with Omar and the more recent Funkbias on Swamp 81.


His efforts on the early days of dubstep don’t go unnoticed working with Skream for some wobble in the later half of the album. Lucid Dreams featuring Falty DL is pure stand-out though, as is his Trouble In The Streets featuring Mark Pritchard, both instant head nodders for the chinstroke to deconstruct ut even more at home in a club with a big system.


Although there was the release of a picture disc 12″ in support, the whole album is only available on CD and digitally. Even if you’re wax only, pick it up – an instant classic that you’ll still be listening to in five years.