Tokyo-based, Chicago-born producer and singer Ace Hashimoto has returned to us after a stint in the wilderness with his new track “VAPORWAVES”, featuring funk bass deity, cartoon character and reincarnation of the still-living Bootsy Collins, Thundercat. Since his album It Is What It Is dropped last year, Thundercat has been relatively quiet, only working on the soundtrack for the reboot of Thundercats, in a subtle piece of meta commentary. Ace is a true gentleman for bringing together this collaboration and reminding us that the virtuoso bassist still walks among us, not merely on Instagram Live calls with Zack Fox. To top it all off, the track is pure high-end low-end premium dank, and sounds like it could easily have slotted in to Thundercat’s 2020 album.
Thundercat provides the slinkiest, most self-assured bassline of 2021 so far while Ace Hashimoto fleshes out the track with crunchy claps and breezy melodies. The duo then uses this as a jumping point to croon tenderly and tackle life’s great questions. Using only the smoothest timbres, they wax lyrical about the purpose of life, the existence of a God (besides Thundercat), and our legacy on a dilapidated planet. I like the tactic here, sneaking thought-provoking concepts in such a bright and colourful package. Conscious funk could well be an agent in long-lasting change on the planet, if at all possible. The track has a retro 8-bit lyric video featuring the two low-resolution singers cruising past sand and palm trees in a grey convertible, and it’s the perfect accompaniment. It feels like I’m in the whip with them, high out of my mind and pondering life’s quandaries with the wind blowing through my hat.
“After we've squandered it all and the earth's left to crumbs
After the end of the world, when it's all said and done
There's no sign of life, but somehow life will still carry on
Could it mean our existence's not grand as we thought?”
Ace Hashimoto has clearly had some time to reflect and gain some Eastern wisdom during his hiatus. As a species which famously claims there is no existence outside of our personal experiences, it’s refreshing to hear an artist try to add a little perspective and possibly entice unwitting listeners into caring a bit more about stuff, whether or not the endeavour is doomed to fail. Just because these same conversations are happening in clouds of weed smoke in student halls around the world at this very moment does not make them less pertinent.
When Thundercat’s familiar falsetto appears in the second verse, it’s a glorious moment which launches the track to the intergalactic realms from which Thundercat posits humanity may have originated. I’m not sure about that, but it sounds like a dream cloud of vapour waves only prevented from drifting off into the stratosphere by the weight of its own subject matter and bass.
We know this track is from Ace Hashimoto’s upcoming debut album, but details are currently scant. What is known is that this tracks bumps, as well as getting the synapses sparking. If Ace can perfect this formula and expand on it, there’s no reason to believe he won’t switch the convertible for a DeLorean and go where he doesn’t need roads, hopefully taking us with him.