At the end of last year, interstellar funk architect Thundercat debuted a previously unreleased track at One Eyed Jack in New Orleans called “Them Changes” (for Pitchfork‘s Night Cap series). As a three-piece ensemble–with frontman Stephen Bruner leading the groove on six-string bass guitar and soulful falsetto vocals–they charged through this body moving, deep space jam. It’s a brilliant, supercharged effort that draws more from Thundercat’s debut album Golden Age of Apocalypse than the chilling ruminations of his most recent Apocalypse LP.
Yesterday, Thundercat announced the news of his newest release, the six-track mini-album The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam, which was accompanied by a long-awaited studio version of “Them Changes.” The immediate intensity of the track’s earlier live version is toned down, just barely, and that killer synthesizer solo is traded in for a gorgeous and technically understated solo by Brainfeeder saxophonist Kamasi Washington.
The first few seconds of the “Them Changes” single drops in with a delightfully Dilla-esque drum break before scooping up that recklessly sauntering double bassline. Around the minute marker, a stark and sexy piano melody introduces an element of smooth jazz-laden hip-hop, another addition to the studio version courtesy of Flying Lotus‘ Stephen Ellison. “Somebody tell me how I’m supposed to feel/ When I’m sitting here knowing this ain’t real,” Bruner sings with a familiar air of psychotropic introspection, “Why in the world would I give my heart to you/ Just to achoo, throw it in the trash?” The prolific songwriter has spent much of the last two years collaborating with Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar on their You’re Dead! and To Pimp A Butterfly records, respectively, so this new offering is understandably enthralling.
Listen to “Them Changes” above and watch the live version from last December below.