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One who considers their music taste to be eclectic or eccentric might say that their Music Library is filled with several different genres, containing music from various time periods. They might listen to classical music one moment, listen to blues or jazz next, and later, might listen to electro pop. This music fan is looking for a challenge. I’m talking about a challenge for your musical mind. What if all of these elements were present in one album? What if several of these elements were present in just one song?
The Great Game’s self-titled album, released in January, poses the true music fan with something they are definitely not expecting. While falling into the New World Music category, it would be wrong to try to place them into a specific genre. They use their enhanced musicality, combining influences that cross genre lines, timelines, and even language lines, to create something truly unique. The first track of the album, “Science,” clearly depicts this notion as it opens with a groove that makes you feel like you have entered a chemistry lab. It’s technical, yet driving. They let you know right away that they aren’t just singing about science, but they are letting you feel it as well. The haunting vocals in the verses of the track draw you in and let you believe that you are beginning to understand where the track is going, but not before another surprising turn. The vocals change to more of a preacher claiming; “the future will be better.” The horns and the essence of the beat change drastically before the chorus begins with, yet another surprise. The fierce and driving rock beat along with the strong and rich lead vocals will definitely leave your head rocking.
From track to track, the general vibe of the album continues to change. You’re unable to become accustomed to one single sound as you listen. It fluctuates often, but continues to offer melodies that you’ll enjoy. The instrumentation changes from track to track, or even within each track, but what truly impresses me is that they are still able to remain cohesive. It’s really tough to be this diverse and still maintain consistency throughout the album, but The Great Game manages to make it happen. The tracks make sense lyrically and musically, but they go about their approach in a way that refuses to let you become bored, as they continue to challenge what you think you know.
The vocal track in “Religionism” takes on a hardcore, screamo vibe at one point, but the following track, “The Turning Of The Wheel Of Dhamma” uses the guitar and horns to create a down-home, relaxed, old school feeling. If that’s not eclectic, I don’t know what is. It’s very clear that the album was placed in a specific order, as you don’t hear anything similar in two respective track listings. Most of the songs feature a male vocal, but in “Television,” “El Hechizo De Hoy,” and “Poetry In Motion,” there is a beautifully confident female vocal that provides a lighter and mysterious element to the album. “El Hechizo De Hoy” even takes you away from the language of the rest of the tracks, exhibiting both Spanish and English. Whether or not you know Spanish, the song’s ska-type percussion, along with the accordion offering a gorgeous melody, reflecting upon traditional Eastern European music, your mind is able to relax and take a step back from some of the more intense moments in the album. As a group, they fluctuate immensely in intensity throughout the album. This is perfectly exemplified as they move from a jazzy jam band vibe in the beginning of “And The Blind Man Lead The Way,” to a heavy rock mixed with a funk vibe in “Bipolaroid.”
The whole album is an impressive piece of musical art. The listener is taken through a range of emotions as The Great Game allows you to experience an incredibly wide range of unexpected material. The best part of the listening experience is that you begin to understand how unique the material is, and how innovative and musically inclined the band members must be to produce these pieces. I began to listen to each drum hit, each crescendo, and even how carefully they selected their silent moments. They maximized the engagement of their audience by making all of these inherently musically educated choices, which led to a wonderfully creative album. As much as I have tried, I cannot put my finger on a means of describing this group in few words. There is merely no way of completing that task. While that typically bothers me, as it’s easier to categorize music in some way or another, I don’t think there is a true label for The Great Game; and that’s okay with me.
Article by: Alex Feigin