Chocolate Genius


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Chocolate Genius (aka Mark Anthony Thompson) may be getting lumped in with nu-soul brethren like Bilal and D'Angelo, but his sound is far more unclassifiable than that of your average R&B crooner. Take "For One More Look at You," the first proper track off his second LP, for instance. With its spacy atmosphere, subtle strings, melodic piano accents, textural percussion, and so-breathy-they're-barely-there vocals, the song sounds more like a long-lost outtake from Talk Talk's Laughingstock than the sizzling sex-you-up innuendo we've come to associate with the genre. And yeah, maybe "Love" crosses the line into sappy sentimentality, but when the man's got world-class musicians like guitarists Marc Ribot and Chris Whitley and bassist Chris Wood kicking out the slow jams behind him, you're willing to grant him a bit more leeway. Besides, Thompson's songwriting more than makes up the difference, veering from the alt-rock anthem of "My Endless Fall" to the psychedelic folk of "Bossman Piss (In My Lemonade)" to the haunting Peter Gabriel balladry of "To Serve You," like Prince before he contracted a crippling case of musical diarrhea. Though far less inconsistent than his debut, Godmusic still isn't quite the genre-hopping classic you suspect Chocolate Genius may yet have in him, but it's good enough to move him near the top of the neo-soul class.

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