Tag Archives: Brainfeeder


After we heard prolific Brainfeeder bass embassador Thundercat’s debut album, The Golden Age of the Apocalypse, it was safe to assume that the creative relationship between Flying Lotus and Thundercat would be one of the most productive and important collaborations of this decade. Yes, Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat has only released one album, but his bass work has been present in Flying Lotus’ music since the mind-blowing and critically acclaimed Cosmogramma, where his free jazz sensibilities created some of the most transcendent moments on the LP. Beyond that, the two have proven to possess crazy experimental boundary-pushing tendencies, a crystal clear collaborative vision, and a bountiful friendship. Because of this, their true promise is in the music they have yet to release, perhaps the music on Thundercat’s sophomore LP, The Apocalypse, which was announced this week, along with the first single, “Heartbreaks + Setbacks”.

Bruner’s music has always been emotional, but in the past it has felt like the emotion was trying to reach you from behind the smoke of indulgent free jazz, or through the frenzy of Bruner’s bass shredding. Here Lotus and Thundercat have tried something different. The emotion touches you. It arrests you for three minutes and twenty-three seconds and then lets you go. The pure emotion succeeds this time with the accessibility of the song, no doubt. It’s still got the snappy rawness of a Thundercat cut, but gone are the jazz fusion chord acrobatics, wonky drum patterns, and space station bleeps. You’re still riding high, but you’re in the clouds, feeling the wind, a little closer to earth. Mono/Poly also has a production credit on “Heartbreaks + Setbacks” and my guess is that he’s lent his ethereal production chops to the atmosphere, the clear, bright drums and that insistent synth line that feels like the a sonic embodiment of the iconic Brainfeeder spark. Thundercat’s vocal and songwriting performance is not without its setbacks, as some of the pop style phrasing sounds forced (as one user so aptly pointed out in the comments, “can’t nobody stop the juice so baby tell me what’s the use?”). Yes, it sounds a bit reminiscent of the radio in the early 2000s, but not distractingly so and perhaps to its benefit. Beyond its emotive qualities and Bruner’s clear technical skill, this is the most commercially viable music the duo has released to date.

The Apocalyse is out on Brainfeeder this July 9th.


Lapalux and Kerry Leatham just need to stop. I don’t know if I can handle the immense loneliness and beauty the producer and singer bring to the table when they collaborate. A lot of fuss has been made about race and R&B in recent days and if the genre is inherently black or not. Not being a part of the greater R&B community, I can’t really speak on the greater race/class/historical issues in play here, but it has to be said that much of the innovation within the genre has come from outside its traditional barriers. Immensely popular artists like The Weeknd and Jeremih sound like nothing that came before them and work with producers like Zodiac, Shlohmo and Mike Will who offer sound palates that are pretty much antithetical to what traditional R&B stands for. Even further out are guys like Holy Other and Tom Krell who have reduced R&B to an icicle of its former self. Lapalux’s best work comes out when he’s working with vocalists, specifically Leatham, and “Without You” is his most emotive, touching track to date. The version in the wholly unsettling video below is the radio edit, but you can buy the full length version, which also includes “Guuurl”from iTunes,

In October of 2010, Giovanni Civitenga aka My Dry Wet Mess released his debut album Irrational Alphabet through Daedelus’ Magical Properties imprint. At the time, Civitenga resided in Barcelona and the album is as breezy and carefree as the Mediterranean climate it was produced in. Nowadays, Civitenga makes his home in Berlin and his sound has changed accordingly. “Berlin Stereo Hands” is the title track of MDWM’s sophomore effort, set to be released on November 13 via Brainfeeder. The track shows Civitenga with a renewed focus, juxtaposing live guitar with zipping electronic noises. The percussion is more steely and complex than anything on Irrational Alphabet, resulting in a sound Civitenga calls “future nostaliga”. Stream below and head over to XLR8R for a free download.

For fans of experimental beat music, Stuart Howard AKA Lapalux represents a constantly rising bar. Since his production techniques are so huge and his style and artistic choices so personal and unpredictable, he’s the kind of producer people just have to watch to see what he does next, rather than judge in reference to a fleeting trend. An early and enduring fascination with analog tape manipulation is a large factor in the fresh but rooted sound he has harnessed. In his new EP, Some Other Time, Lapalux further expands and saturates (literally and figuratively) his world of sound and takes it in a refreshing direction. A lot of this new work feels even more inspired by the intersection of R&B with both the past and future of electronic music.

I’ll save your valuable time by listing here all the onomatopoeia and sonic descriptors I would have used in the rest of this article if it was much longer: “Buzz, pop, crackle, skitter, skip, lush, collisions, collapse, jittery, measured, fluid, swirling, whirling, winding, spindly, windy, vivid, brittle, jagged.”

So now that that’s out of the way I can talk about some of my favorite moments.

Unlike many Lapalux jams, the opening song, “Quartz”, remains innocent and free without descending into madness. Instead, meandering vocals and airy resonances create a pensive, soothing atmosphere, suggesting a place that would be nice to get lost in.

Throughout the EP, many will recognize the quality of certain sounds. Maybe a bass we’ve heard in dubstep, out-of-context foley sounds like those we’ve heard on other Brainfeeder releases , noise and rummaging textures we’ve heard in computer music for years, strings we’ve heard in symphonies, but they’ve never been used to make us cringe the way that I did at the 1 minute mark of “Strangling You With the Cord”. It’s a song that is as homicidal as its name suggests. Whatever/ whoever is being strangled here is to be permanently scarred and will probably never again make the mistake that provoked this song. It’s that cringe of distress or terror or torment that activated the neurons that awaken memories of when I’ve cringed like that before, thus transferring directly to me the emotion that created the song in the first place, without lyrics as a vehicle. I’d argue that Lapalux is at his best at these moments.

One similarity to his past releases is that sounds seem to brace themselves in anticipation for their turn to dive in on our ears in one crushing blow after another. We hear this same tendency epitomized in “Time Spike Jamz” of of Many Faces Out Of Focus, but really all across his catalogue. To avoid completely losing track of all these sounds, Lapalux has always masterfully woven some sort of hook into every track, whether through vocals or chord progressions. What has progressed about his style on Some Other Time is the level of control and attention to detail which allows the tracks to be even more transportive and immersive.

“Forgetting and Learning Again” with Kerry Leatham is the standout track and the one I want to hear again and again. It is larger than life, and has a staggering amount of soul. It has the most pleasurable sounds on this EP, going effortlessly between between decadent bass and keys, and sounds that various creatures from Alice and Wonderland might make if you stepped on them or they were scurrying away from you in a magical forest. The towering force of the beat combined with the emotion of the vocal really penetrates. In the final minute of the song, we’re treated to a distant anticipation, and an absolutely arresting final statement by Lapalux and Leatham, the latter of which is on track to “have another” and is probably “having another” right now as I write this. Much like whatever Leatham is having another of, this EP is intoxicating from beginning to end.

2012 has been a good year for Brainfeeder. Flying Lotus’s label and purveyor of everything good and holy have only released two traditional full lengths, Ryat’s and Lapalux’s (both excellent by the way), but their longest strides have come in the hip hop arena. Now if you follow us, you’re probably familiar with the label’s stable of MC’s, namely the Maryland-bred Azizi Gibson and Chicago’s Jeremiah Jae. The two have been making some of the most unfiltered, dynamic hip hop this year, which is quite a statement considering Black Hippy and Danny Brown’s output alone. Luckily for us, the two have joined together for a concept tape of sorts. Ignorant Prayers is an ode to all those who pray for the important things in life i.e. a lot of fellatio. Money too. If you’re looking for grimy, unadulterated rhymes over the wonky beats we’ve come to love from Jae and the Brainfeeder clique in general, do not sleep on this tape. It’s shocking without striving for shock value and has some of the gulliest production this side of FlyLo himself. Grab the full tape below and grab the instrumentals right here.

Download: Azizi Gibson x Jeremiah Jae – Ignorant Prayers

Wassup readers, my name’s Will.  I’m from rural-ass Wisconsin, currently residing in Los Angeles.  I’m about to begin lacing The Astral Plane with occasional mixes, track postings, and overly pretentious musings on music and the artists that make it.  I played a lot of violin and cello in my childhood and I’ve always loved making music.  Inexplicably, I love hip hop, and I have for a long time.  Lately I’ve developed a full-blown obsession with listening to, studying, and crafting electronic music.  I won’t bother talking about my tastes now because you’ll figure them out sooner or later.   Anyways, to start, I’ve had the pleasure of listening through Jeremiah Jae’s forthcoming LP Raw Money Raps quite a few times, and I figured I would share my thoughts on the album.

Two days ago, Jeremiah Jae graced us with his latest effort, a three-track single released by Brainfeeder.  “Money” is his most recent release on the LA powerhouse since the Rappayamatantra EP last spring and a precursor to his debut full length on Brainfeeder, Raw Money Raps, set to drop July 23rd.   If my first few listens of the LP are any indication, Jae has crafted a debut full length as thoughtful and intriguing as those of his fellow west coast come-ups (read Black Hippy) and is about to make some serious waves.

Chicago native Jae has a serious pedigree; his father was a musician who worked with Miles Davis.  He also has a serious endorsement from another musician with close connections to jazz royalty, a certain Flying Lotus.  Raw Money Raps seems to be born of a smorgasbord of influences, but Jae manages to blend a host of seemingly disparate elements into a cohesive whole.  He builds his sounds so that every sonic element fits into a context that is at once eyebrow raising and comfortable.  The cohesion moves beyond individual tracks; Jae pulls the listener on a crazy tour of hip-hop subgenres.  When I first listened to “Money and Food”, the b-side of the “Money” single, I felt like the track was trapped between club banger and wonky curiosity and didn’t really work as either.  However, on the LP, it comes as a catchy, satirical take on the “Love In This Club” style of hip-hop club banger.  This belies the sense of structure that underwrites every track on the album, as well as the album again.

I love music that sucks me in, forces me to get so deeply lost in the soundscape that the details are inescapable.  If there was one thing that struck my about “Raw Money Raps”, it was this mercurial quality of interest.  There is a fascinating duality to the music; it has the control and polish of modern digital production, but there is a consistent, charismatic humanity that hearkens more to a track coming out of RZA’s MPC.  This album is full of W8WTF moments. “Guns Go Off”, the album’s second track and its first fully structured tune shakes the listener with a short, disorienting loop that carries through the whole song.  15 seconds in I was like fuck this I’m over it.  But a little patience let me hear Jae carefully manipulate this loop as he introduced his own musings.  His voice goes through a gauntlet of effects, each carefully introduced and morphed.  It wasn’t easy to notice the song developing, but undeniably, it was.  Having to search for Jae’s musical ideas made them all the more satisfying.

Parts of this album are really fucking weird.  There is absolutely no percussion on “Infinite Mask”.  Jae raps over a drone, some plucking sounds, a jazzy bass line, unpredictable organic sounds, and a peanut gallery of spoken vocal samples.  There is nothing new about this, as this style is highly reminiscent of his debut Brainfeeder EP.  On this particular album, weirdness works wonders. The whisper of vocal samples that pervades the album is generally unintelligible, but that’s okay because the words themselves don’t really matter; it’s the sound of those human voices that matter.  Jae replaces hi-hats with consonants.  Words rush and skitter around the beat like water in a rhythmic stream.  It’s beautiful.

This same acute sense of the human voice as an instrument can be seen in Jae’s flow.  It’s easy for a sample-heavy beatsmith to get lost in the Dilla/Madlib/Premier shadow, but even the most Donuts-esque tracks on Raw Money Raps seem refreshingly original.  A large portion of this is due to Jae’s flow.  His bars feel nonchalant, with the elegant ease of a jazz musician flipping off a solo on his favorite set of changes.  However, on Raw Money Raps, Jae is not only the lead trumpeter but also the backing combo. His lyrics are generally clearly intelligible, but the words don’t pop out of the speakers.  Instead they weave in and out of the beat, sometimes complementing, sometimes contrasting, sometimes acting as nothing more than a constituent of the beat.  The first time through, I didn’t even really have a chance to listen to what Jae was saying, as I was too busy listening to how he was saying it.  Jae is a thoughtful, skilled lyricist and his ciphers present a jaded take on the paradigms of hip-hop.  They also unfold in meaning as one becomes more familiar with them, which brings me to the biggest reason I like this album.

When I finish the album’s amen, “Cable” (which I’m pretty sure prominently features a sample from the soundtrack of Pixar’s “Up”) I want to go right back and press play on track 1.  I always feel like there is more to figure out.  In an age of twitter and more songs from more producers than you could ever possibly listen to, it’s a blessing to have a work of art that you need to grapple with, that doesn’t diverge all of its secrets right away.  Is “Raw Money Raps” perfect?  Certainly not.  It’s not right for everyone, and if you are looking for the instant gratification of an incredible drop, you won’t find it anywhere on the album.  But if you are looking for carefully crafted, engaging hip-hop, please, for the love of Flying Lotus, buy this album on July 23rd.