Copyright © 1998 All Rights Reserved.
by Aubrey McInnis
· NYC's Marc Anthony Thompson supported by guitarist Marc Ribot, Rollins Band bassist Melvin Gibbs, John Medeski and Chris Wood.
· Currently working on a soundtrack for the new Larry Clark (Kids) film, Another Day in Paradise.
If you're anything like me, you may have to repeat a mantra when faced with slow tempo music: just because it's slow doesn't mean it sucks. Yeah, it may drop your pulse down to an aggravating beat and make you fidgety, but that doesn't mean an album can't dent your psyche with as much gusto as the latest wham-bam electrical rock parade.
Take, for example, Black Music. While Chocolate Genius doesn't convince us that he's a complete singer/songwriting genius, he successfully proves that he is a slick doctor of mood music. Although the record ranges from questionable lyrics to profound thoughts to deep reflections about the stack of cards life deals, all of it is delivered with a fantastic baritone voice and languid, warm accompaniment.
However, the content is shaky. When Thompson croons, "If you break my heart, I will reach for your throat," he sets himself wide open for misinterpretation. And later, he comically sings "I lifted a glass and it kicked my black ass down to the sidewalk/ The last thing I heard as my lunch hit the curb was your name" - a wee bit too comically to support the seriousness of the album.
Two gems are "My Mom" (about Alzheimer's disease) and a hidden track, which both capture Thompson's raw talent for elevating heavy and serious matter to a spiritual experience. Normal out-takes - like the licking of lips, a deep inhalation or the creaking of a chair he's balanced on - are wonderful. His pared down approach floats between acoustic and blues styles and ignites a thirsty anticipation for the follow-up album.
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