Published Mar 01, 2017It's a shame there's no music industry equivalent to the academic practice of adding letters behind one's name to signify learned experience; if there were, Ronald Bruner would have much more than a Jr. following him around. On Triumph, the former Suicidal Tendencies drummer and older sibling to Thundercat and Jameel Bruner of the Internet has ascended from support musician to headliner.
Triumph's title proclamation is appropriately confident, as is Bruner's decision to eschew any notion of range anxiety across 11 tracks. From straight R&B riffs and gospel flourishes to the jazz fusion epic jam sessions of "Chick's Web" and the George Duke-featuring "Geome Deome," Bruner is seemingly comfortable in any and all genres. Even when he opts for programmed drums over his kit, the programming is complex and showy.
"Take the Time" with Thundercat is an expected rollercoaster of excellence that pits Bruner's empathetic crooning against his own aggressive drumming. "Whenever" plays like an Usher and Trombone Shorty collaboration. "Open the Gate" is what heaven sounds like. The oddest divergence is the second half of "To You/For You," which sees Bruner Jr. rapping over Watch the Throne-esque synths and complex 808 patterns. It's out of place amongst the rest of the album, but it's interesting nonetheless.
While others may get the inclination to focus on one sound per project, Ronald Bruner Jr. gives us one project that runs the gamut. And what a Triumph it is. (Alpha Pup)