Ambient and troubled, the aptly named Swansongs by Chocolate Genius, Inc. is sad and tired, full of wistful retrospect, farewells and troubled musings. It is heavy with the feeling of dread which creeps in as the sky is starting to lighten at the end of a very long night. That feeling of thread by thread falling apart, of being empty but heavy at the same time. Full of love and exquisite pain, the album begins beautifully. Ambient, abstract and eerie sounds build an understated Eno-esque space. Guitar based rhythms stumble in a little suddenly, followed by gravelly, heart – sick vocals, like a Closing Time Tom Waits.
Chocolate Genius, Inc. is mostly Marc Anthony Thompson. A New York based singer songwriter, who has worked extensively in scoring film and theatre productions, and has worked with handfuls of prolific artists. Swansongs is scattered with sparse and disparate sounds, tinkering pianos, vocal harmonies, discordant whirs, despairing strings, snatches of voice messages. All drenched in Thompson ‘s deep vocals – forlorn and emotional. A little too emotional, at some points. It begins to grate a little.
The solely soundscape Mr. Wonderful is nearly a relief. The moody meandering songs become a little repetitive and bland. It’s the simpler songs which really stand out, however. Stripped back and beautiful Like and nurse and Sit and Spin with only vocals and piano are undoubtable favourites. Lump is the strangest song on the album. I remain quite unsure of it. It doesn’t have the easy refrains of the other songs. It’s less earnest, It’s angry. It’s silly. It’s funny. It’s annoying. It doesn’t fit, but it’s strangely endearing for these reasons.
The second last song of the album When I Lay You Down is suddenly and strangely happy. Upbeat and Gospel it leads in the conclusion. Like the revelation at the end of a story book. The last song, Thompson sings ‘I’m ready now.’ Like it’s the culmination of more than the album, like it’s a true swan song. I surely hope not. Despite it’s downfalls as a whole work, the infinitely wistful Swansongs is well worth listening to.