Chocolate Genius Inc. - Swansongs (One Little Indian)

Marc Anthony Thompson has made the musical equivalent of, well, chocolate.

Released Nov 19th, 2010 via One Little Indian / By Clementine Lloyd
Chocolate Genius Inc. - Swansongs (One Little Indian) Lets make no bones about it, Chocolate is satisfying. Giving an instant hit in the mouth that slips down the throat and collects in your synapses giving that little moment of joy to be savored (until the next mouthful!). This is perhaps why the vibe you get from Chocolate Genius Inc. is simply that, genius! Opening in streams of the hopeful/hopeless, the choral voices and gently tumbling guitar riff unfolds an introverted beauty, telling of a love which fails to make sense in the world it inhabits. It melts as you listen, fading from a heartbeat surrounded by incoherent snatched voices into a fully fledged ballad number, and back into the ether of a million thoughts.

Propagating Chocolate as an interweaving theme, the myriad of different flavours inhabited in Swansongs is truly immense. It is here, in darkness and light, lies the key to Marc Anthony Thompson’s Genius Inc. In elements of Ry Cooder and Tom Waits in more subversive tracks, namely ‘Lump’, there is a menacing quality which reverberates through the drumbeat. Opting for minimalist riffs and the screaming stress of a theremin, emphasising space, spitting the abstract lyrics “you ‘aint F*****g Babe Ruth, serving justice with french fries”, there is evidently a callous swagger in this mans stride. ‘Like A Nurse‘ entices you in with this self same Waits-ey attitude, menacing and yielding, but as the same lyrics are traverse with a high and low pitched voice climbing with the beautiful piano accompaniment, your sympathies switch and you are enticed into the world of contradictions coloured by deep and dark lyrics.

Retreating to a softer and more nurturing side of the soul, yearning for light and beauty, tracks like ‘Kiss Me’ and ‘How I Write My Songs’ envelope you, folding you within a story that echoes over saxophonic breezes and percussive waves. You can't help but think of that other most classic of men, Chris Rea. With lyrics like “How can you spell truth, without l-o-v-e”, Marc imparts a vision which is at once crystal clear and yet cloudy, like a vivid dream that ceases to be once you wake. Slipping into ‘Mr. Wonderful’, and interlude which employs a myriad of voices and machine recordings, this sense of being between waking and dreaming is heightened. This soporific sweep is stealthily beset by the lengthy piano solos and low chords eloquently explored in ‘Sit And Spin’.

These moments of fitful sleepiness do not last long, as Marc weaves between this and tracks such as ‘When I Lay You Down’. Ending on a penultimate high with this offering, the chorus of voices lifts the mood, as the percussive breaks offer a lively setting in which to impart a message of hope that wouldn’t be out of place in a place of worship. Here, Chocolate Genius folds another influence into the mix, layering the funk/soul fluctuations that can also be explored in ‘Enough For You’. Slap-base undertones and a staccato pace bubbling under a soulful vocal foray really shows off the repertoire of this most chameleon-like musician.

Setting out a table of tasters, Swansongs operates under a self assured smoothness which is not misplaced. Like a rough guide into the most classic of musical stylings, Marc Anthony Thompson shows off his refined palate, musically speaking, and gives away the myriad emotions which he comes to terms with through the stories which unfold with every listen. Emphasising the need for varied forms of musical expression for each new feeling, each track feels as though it belongs within the collective. There are no stark switches, just subtle classic blends which only help to strengthen its standing as a true feat of musical engineering, and Marc as an artist who will continue to weave his magic for the rest of his days.