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Thursday, April 17, 2003

Review - The Complex

Artist: Blue Man Group

Posted on Thu, Apr 17, 2003 at 4:00 AM

Modifying the instrumental backdrop sound they utilized on "Audio", the performance-artists-turned-Vegas-celebrities in Blue Man Group have reoriented their sound toward a groove that's ostensibly "rock." And, allow me to warn you, Dave Matthews is on this album. But so is Nels Cline, so that makes up for that khaki-clad misstep. In fact, in addition to Cline, BMG called in Dan the Automator (who produces), Esthero, Venus Hum, Spalding Gray (!) and others (one track brings together Tracy Bonham and, er, Rob Swift) to make for a quite diverse collaboration. Though the Group is renowned for their percussive underpinnings, much of "The Complex" is centered around mediocre melodies and guitar power. A few songs like "Your Attention" do rest heavily on percussion and are more successful than pedestrian tunes like "The Current" or the twangy Matthews-sung "Sing Along." When the cheese gets turned up loudly on covers of "I Feel Love" and "White Rabbit," you begin to understand BMG's Vegas appeal. As artists with a vision, you've got to respect the Group for continuing to attempt to expand the boundaries of whatever format they're working in. And, thanks largely to the talent of their collaborators, they do encounter marginal success here. Ultimately though, "The Complex" ends up proving that sometimes "multimedia entertainment" ain't all it's cracked up to be.

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