CD Review: Thundercat "The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam"

With key contributions this year to highly acclaimed albums by Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington, Thundercat also found time to release his third solo effort, albeit in the form of a six-track, 16-minute EP.
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With key contributions this year to highly acclaimed albums by Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington, Thundercat also found time to release his third solo effort, albeit in the form of a six-track, 16-minute EP. No complaints, however, as one of the most singular voices in bass continues to sculpt his intoxicating blend of extended harmonies, falsetto vocals, and midrange-minded 6-string—this time addressing the solemn themes of loss, vulnerability, and the afterlife. “Hard Times,” the opening vocal-and-bass-chord meditation, sets the reflective pace (book-ended by the haunting interlude “That Moment”). “Song for the Dead” uses a tribal beat and melodically linked arpeggios to deliver its celestial-sendoff subject matter. Filtered bass, unrelated chord leaps, and a backbeat add emphasis to the tale of heartbreak in “Them Changes.” “Lone Wolf and Cub” serves as the centerpiece, a trippy groove lushly layered with basses, vocals, horns, keyboards (including Herbie Hancock), and Flying Lotus flourishes, which segues into a B-side of hypnotic, interlocked basses. The visual title track ends matters on a brighter note, though the shadows linger in the tensions of the upper voicings.

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