“Fleer Ultra” by Thundercat
from the album The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Copyright Brainfeeder 2011)
What better way to kick off this section than with my current man of the hour, Thundercat aka Stephen Bruner! I’ve had this album on permanent rotation since discovering it last year, having been a fan of Bruner’s work as a sideman with the likes of Erykah Badu & FlyLo. His solo debut gives a hefty nod to the classic Jazz Fusion pioneers such as Return To Forever, fusing this with cosmic electronic textures & programming. “Fleer Ultra” is a short blast of this stew, with a killer theme, groove and all sorts going on underneath/above/all around this.
This notation is transcribed for 4 string bass, although most of the original is likely played on Bruner’s 6-string MTD, therefore those of us endowed with but 4 strings need to work much more laterally over the fretboard! When it comes to left hand positions I’ve notated what is easiest for me, so experiment with positions to see what feels the most efficient to you. The track has a fairly ambiguous main key, but seems to resolve to A flat major.
The entire track revolves around an 8 bar progression of alternating major 7 chords, ascending in tones for the last 4 bars of the sequence. I’ve used an 8va bracket over the notation for ease of reading (tab pitches are as written). Be sure to listen to the track for expressions like slides & vibrato to give the line the flow it needs, and dig in with those right hand fingers to get the punchy attack of Bruner’s sound!
As mentioned, there are a lot of crazy sounds flying around, and this part could well be a number of things (keys, synths, bass through a high pass filter with chorus, etc…) but what seems to fit in terms of timbre & shapes is tapping, which also helps with those fast changes in position & anticipated notes. Check out the suggested fingering, especially for that jump from the bar 8 back to the top!
Tc uses mainly root/5th/Octave variations to pin down the groove whilst outlining the harmonic movement of the progression alongside snippets of major scale tones and 9ths (used heavily in neo-soul & gospel and showing Bruner’s musical roots)!
Finally, you can grab the full PDF here! Hope you enjoy this track & album as much as I do, and please get in touch if you have any comments!