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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Review - The Cosmic Game

Artist: Thievery Corporation

Posted on Thu, Jan 27, 2005 at 4:00 AM

The Cosmic Game
Label: ESL
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: The Cosmic Game

Dance music been leaving you cold? Thousands agree and it shows, as sales of the genre have plummeted since 2000 while a dollar-hungry music press continues to downgrade the genre's status to that of the plague. Moby, Björk and The Chemical Brothers still rate a nod from the music media, while underground artists go begging. But whose fault is that? We live in a conservative era with a trickle-down outlook that's infected the arts as well as our pocketbooks.

Into this scenario comes Washington, D.C.'s Thievery Corporation, a duo that, for 10 years, has developed a madly diverse following, appealing to pimply club kids, geeky gear-heads, lifestyle listeners and jazz and world music aficionados alike. Producers Eric Hilton and Rob Garza's approach is a sonic grab bag tempered by good taste, singular craftsmanship and undeniable style.

From Sounds From the Thievery Hi-Fi and The Mirror Conspiracy to 2002's The Richest Man in Babylon, Hilton and Garza matched and morphed bossa nova, pop, dub and Afrobeat samples over hazy, hallucinogenic beats. Some complain that Thievery Corporation's eclecticism turns perfectly solid samples and natty live performances into a sleepy orbit of dope smoke-infused ennui, but when the elements are favorable their music is pristine, sleek and as rocking as a midnight revolution with Fela, Lee Perry and Tom Jobim as your hosts.

The Cosmic Game solves TC's previous problems by adding psychedelic interludes and knowing guest vocalists to the duo's ever-evolving sonic world stew. Accompanied by such singers as Wayne Coyne, Perry Farrell, David Byrne and Gigi, The Cosmic Game runs a fevered pace, from the political ("Marching the Hate Machines [Into the Sun]") to the blissful ("The Cosmic Game") and from Brazilian sincerity ("Pela Janela") to pumping Afrobeat ("The Heart's a Lonely Hunter").

Yet, at the end of the day no one will care where the sounds came from, or even if Thievery Corporation has treated their sources (and guests) with respect. The Cosmic Game simply succeeds at taking your mind on an amorphous and completely modern journey.


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