A Beginner’s Guide to Brainfeeder Records

Flying Lotus performs at Coachella, 2012. Photo: Karl Walter/Getty Images

Flying Lotus’ 2008 album, Los Angeles, begins with an ominous astronomical loop, setting a heavy tone for his esoteric blend of cosmic electronica. The song, titled “Brainfeeder,” doesn’t seem fit for this world: it sounds like science fiction on wax, like an alien hovercraft ascending from this world and onto the next.

Four years later, and Lotus’ boutique record label — also called Brainfeeder — is a reflection of his own distinctive makeup. From Ryat to Teebs, Martyn to Thundercat, each producer is an extension of Lotus in some way. Their music is downright weird and unnerving. The artists seem to revel in their uniqueness, casting aside any notions to conform for commercial reception. They create what they want on their own terms. And Lotus doesn’t seem to mind; in fact, he probably endorses it. Here’s five essential Brainfeeder albums that any electronic fan should have in their arsenal.

1. Thundercat, The Golden Age of Apocalypse

A dynamic bassist, Thundercat could’ve earned a decent living without saying a word. His fluttering chords are equally distinguishable and ambient: he never overpowers the songs on which he’s featured and he always finds a way to leave a mark. Then there was “MmmHmm,” arguably the best song on Lotus’ 2010 album, Cosmogramma. There, he sang lead vocals and played bass with great abundance. On The Golden Age of Apocalypse, Thundercat rode the momentum with a focused set of electro-funk instrumentals and soul ballads, shrugging off sidekick status with one of 2011’s brighter releases. On “For Love (I Come Your Friend),” Thundercat surpassed the George Duke original with calm vocals and a frenetic outro. The bassist is working on his second LP. Who else could make Scooby Doo sound so cool?     

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