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Old 12-09-2009, 07:59 AM   #41 (permalink)
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A belated bump here...

Thievery Corporation - The Cosmic Game (2005)

genre: trip-hop, downtempo, worldbeat, dub
1. Marching the Hate Machines (Into the Sun) [ft Wayne Coyne]
2. Warning Shots [ft Sleepy Wonder & Gunjan]
3. Revolution Solution [ft Perry Farrell]
4. The Cosmic Game
5. Satyam Shivam Sundaram [ft Gunjan]
6. Amerimacka [ft Notch]
7. Ambicion Eterna [ft Verny Varela]
8. Pela Janela [ft Gigi Rezende]
9. Sol Tapado [ft Patrick de Santos]
10. The Heart's a Lonely Hunter [ft David Byrne]
11. Holographic Universe
12. Doors Of Perception [ft Gunjan]
13. Wires and Watchtowers [ft Sista Pat]
14. The Supreme Illusion [ft Gunjan]
15. The Time We Lost Our Way [ft Loulou]
16. A Gentle Dissolve


So then, it's a thread highlighting not only a bunch of albums both Zarko and myself like from the last ten years, but also a way highlighting a bunch of albums and/or artists we think more people deserve to be hearing. That being the case, it's about time I gave a shout to the mighty Thievery Corporation - the DC producer/DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton making for quite possibly my favourite electronic group on the decade. While their 2000 effort, the Mirror Conspiracy, is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most important albums in my music collection (definitive of my decade if you will - we'll get to that later though ), the Cosmic Game here is an album I haven't listened too quite as often, and I thought now would be a good opportunity to flag up another superb piece of work that the pair are responsible for.

Basically, how the Garza/Hilton duo is they write and recording a backing track and then invite various singers or rappers from all corners of the globe to take care of the vocal overdubs, like how the simmering, synth-heavy Marching the Hate Machine (Into the Sun), features Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips to get the album off to an ominous though fitting kind of start. The pace really picks up with the following Warning Shots with the harsh, gritty, ragga-styled vocals of Sleepy Wonder and the atmospheric tones of Gunjan and, with an absolute killer of a bassline, also introduces us to one of the major strengths of the Cosmic Game - some of the finest bass ever committed to tape. Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell supplies the silky-smooth vocal for the slower, more synth-oriented Revolution Solution before the track sequence melts into the blissfully dubby title track, the Cosmic Game; one of just three instrumental tracks.

Satyam Shivam Sundaram is another great little tune, and one which introduces a few Indian, sitar-induced atmospherics, and is another of several tracks to feature one of Gunjan's vocal tracks, this time taking the lead part by herself. The slower vibe is carried over to the gently-rolling, more bass-heavy Amerimacka before the beautiful, acoustic guitar licks and polyrhythmic percussion introduce us to Ambicion Eterna. By now, the balance of sonic themes which dominates the album has been well and truly shown - the tracks vary from revolving around some of the coolest basslines that certainly I've ever heard and some gorgeous, synth-laden, world-wary atmospherics and percussion. The gorgeous Pela Janela fits somewhere in the middle though, as Gigi Rezende's has her vocal put over the top of a great backing track, dominated by some giddy percussion, synth and bass and guitar figures which happily mimic one another.

What follows is one of my favourite sequences of tracks on any album, nevermind of this decade. It begins with the terrific, bass-led Sol Tapado before another lively percussion figure brings about the track to feature David Byrne's vocal, the Heart's a Lonely Hunter, with the occasional horn interludes giving it a lively, Latin American vibe. To move on with this little run of impeccable quality is another instrumental, Holographic Universe - another one to walk the fine line of this album's thematic sounds nicely, being propelled by another great bassline and some typically evocative synth atmospherics. Concluding the run is Doors Of Perception, another tune to feature Gunjan's beautiful vocal (although very sparingly in this case), starting with a simple, slow bassline and a repetitive use of the sitar before the track kind of explodes into a faster tempo, with the bassline really taking over the track, while Garza and Hilton's skill as a production duo really shines with how it's all held together.

Despite my getting carried away with all that praise in the above few paragraphs, if there's a flaw with this album it's that it's probably a little too long, and it shows after this point. Wires and Watchtowers is hardly a bad tune, but it's just not one that stands out with any real punch or identity of its own. The Supreme Illusion could also fall under that umbrella too - again, not bad by any means (actually quite good compared to some tunes I could mention), but the album as a unit could have done without it. The Time We Lost Our Way though is where things pick up again, with an absolutely superb, laid-back, slow-burning number led by Loulou's sweet vocal, and is very reminiscent of the aforementioned Mirror Conspiracy album (seeing as she sung a few vocal tracks on that album too). A definite album highlight, and to cap it all off is one more instrumental - the fittingly-titled a Gentle Dissolve.

So then, there aren't any bad moments at all on the Cosmic Game and it definitely is one of my favourite albums of the decade. Not quite my favourite Thievery Corporation album though (that'd be either the Richest Man In Babylon or the Mirror Conspiracy), which says a lot for their output really. If you like great, chilled-out, world-wary vibes and fantastic basslines, this is the album for you. Even if it is a tad overlong (it'd be one of my all-time favourites were it shortened to, say, ten tracks), my thoughts regarding this album can be summed up thusly;





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Old 12-09-2009, 08:40 AM   #42 (permalink)
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Good call reviewing this Bulldog, I love The Cosmic Game. While I do prefer Mirror Conspiracy by a bit, I think this is a hugely underrated album. It's very disappointing that around here, nearly everyone who says they like Thievery Corporation has yet to hear this album The list of guest musicians is amazing as well. Looking forward to see what you have to say about Mirror Conspiracy!
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:14 AM   #43 (permalink)
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That's basically exactly how I feel about this album myself. As I say, the Richest Man In Babylon and the Mirror Conspiracy stand as my favourites, but the Cosmic Game is still a very very good album, and definitely not to be ignored. Plus I've got warm memories of getting this a few Christmases ago and whiling away at those long winter evenings getting into it, which always helps!
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Old 12-10-2009, 05:26 PM   #44 (permalink)
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This looks really great I've been meaning to check this band out.
I'd appreciate a PM if you'd be so kind.
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Old 12-10-2009, 05:27 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacklovezhimself View Post
This looks really great I've been meaning to check this band out.
I'd appreciate a PM if you'd be so kind.
Sure thing

Check your inbox tomorrow - I'm in dire need of a good night's sleep now, so I'll get a link sorted then.
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Old 12-10-2009, 05:31 PM   #46 (permalink)
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Thanks a lot!
and take your time, I wouldn't want to deprive anyone of a good night's sleep.
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:39 AM   #47 (permalink)
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No probs

Pm sent...
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:21 PM   #48 (permalink)
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Time for a bump and a half...

The Bees - Free the Bees (2004)

genre: indie, psychedelic
1. These Are the Ghosts
2. Wash In the Rain
3. No Atmosphere
4. Horsemen
5. Chicken Payback
6. The Russian
7. I Love You
8. The Start
9. Hourglass
10. Go Karts
11. One Glass Of Water
12. This Is the Land


There are probably a few questions that you want ansred, such as 'what's the capital of Trinidad and Tobago', 'who the hell are the Bees' and 'how do I fix my boiler?' The answer to those questions in no particular order; I've never done so myself, Port Of Spain and a psychedelic indie group from the Isle Of Wight. In fact, that last one about the Bees being from the Isle Of Wight is particularly interesting because, as you'll discover if you know these guys, Paul Butler's vocal Kris Birkin's pristine and twangy guitar sound (at least in places) very American, and not from such a quintessentially English spot. At the end of the day, what we have is a very fun, upbeat and energetically guitar-heavy indie sound spiced up by some touches of psychedelia here and there.

These Are the Ghosts kicks the album into life nicely and fittingly with a quick swathe of psychedelic-sounding feedback before the kind of echoey vocal eventually evolves into a nice, loud thrash-up of a song. Wash In the Rain introduces us to another stylistic theme of the album, that being loud, sharp and repetitive guitar motifs underpinning a very neat and catchy tune, with the odd use of the hammond organ keeping things in line with the overall sound. It's all very reminiscent of west coast psychedelia, as is the early highlight No Atmosphere - opened by a fantastic, rolling and repetitive guitar riff before a very neat little time change sets this one apart from the rest.

Following the more psychedelic-leaning opening salvo, we move into single territory, the first of these being the fabulous Horsemen, propelled as it is by some more very prominent guitar and a great little melody before an intriguing piece of studio trickery takes us through each chorus. Top stuff, and fittingly followed by the equally-awesome and catchy though much more simplistic Chicken Payback. The video's hilarious too. As you may have noticed by now, great guitar work and convincing echoes of west coast psychedelia are common strong-points of this album, and the five minute instrumental workout that is the Russian is yet one more example of this.

I Love You, as you might guess from the lame title, is the weak point of the album, being a very uninteresting little number as it is as the overall pace of the album starts to take a turn for the slower. Things improve with the Start, but nevertheless the weaker middle-section of the album continues here. Hourglass is much more like, as although it keeps going with the slower part of the album, and while it's unusual in that it's a rare, bass-driven number here, it plays to the rest of the album's strengths by using the hammond organ superbly and featuring some very good guitar work. The kind of carnival-time, waltzy aspects to Go Karts does make it seem as if the guys had been listening to Being For the Benefit Of Mr. Kite quite a bit when the idea for this intriguing little tune came to them. Easily the most left-of-centre moment of the album then.

As it nears its end, the album picks up the pace again as it speeds towards its climax. The penultimate One Glass Of Water is another tune that really plays to the album's strengths in that not only is it catchy, fun and loud, but it also kinda tricks you into thinking you're dealing with a straight-up indie rocker before the rhythm section and guitar goes into overdrive and makes a beautiful mess of the whole thing. This Is the Land puts the lid on the whole thing as the band tear through another great little west coast-flavoured psychedelic number.

Overall, we're dealing with some pretty bloody good stuff, even if there are a couple of weaker moments to be found. I'm not exactly anyone you could call an indie lover, but I love this album when it plays to its strengths, as when it does it's far from an album you have to know and love a lot more indie to appreciate. Basically, if you're into your nice, loud guitars and especially west coast psychedelia (primarily Nuggets vol 1), get this album.


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