Blue Man Group – The Complex

Blue Man Group - The ComplexSo, Blue Man Group’s going to do an album with lyrics, eh? A rock album no less! But fear not – the Blues haven’t sold out. If anything, The Complex expands their repertoire in a way that keeps even their seasoned, long-time fans on their toes, and demonstrates that their distinctive instrumental sound can serve as the core of some great rock music.

The songs are everything from straight-ahead rockers to low-key alt-rock numbers, and some wild surprises. Did you ever think you’d hear Blue Man Group covering Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” or Blondie’s “I Feel Love”? Show of hands? Didn’t think so. And yet they do, with a melding of their own style and deft tributes to the original (with guest vocalist Esthero making “Rabbit” her own and paying homage to Grace Slick, if that’s not too much of a contradiction; Venus Hum waxes a bit more trippy on the “I Feel Love”). The Blues don’t do any singing themselves, instead inviting others to come in and play in their playground, including Dave Matthews and Tracy Bonham.

It’s Bonham’s turn at the microphone that gives The Complex one of its two most distinctive and powerful numbers, “Up To The Roof”, a great meld of confessional lyrics, passionate vocals and an amazing hard rockin’ chorus. You can hear the Blue Man Group sound underneath it all, and yet it’s more than just their sound – it’s a whole new canvas they’re exploring. The other big breakout number is the headbang-worthy “The Current”, with guest vocalist Gavin Rossdale providing a low-key counterpoint to the slammin’ guitar riff of the chorus. (As unlikely as Blue Man Group seemed for inclusion on the Terminator 3 soundtrack, “The Current” was an inspired choice for their contribution.)

As much as I liked their instrumental work in Audio – and there are still plenty of their trademark instrumentals to be Rating: 4 out of 4found on The Complex, including a few that rework some of Audio‘s better passages into the group’s new sound – this album is an evolution they had to make if limiting themselves to the sonic medium. I can’t say enough complimentary things about it that’ll make sense without you hearing it for yourself – highly recommended, and one of my favorite albums of the year.

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  1. Above (4:07)
  2. Time To Start (4:13)
  3. Sing Along (4:14)
  4. Up To The Roof (4:29)
  5. Your Attention (4:37)
  6. Persona (3:25)
  7. Piano Smasher (3:57)
  8. White Rabbit (5:02)
  9. The Current (5:28)
  10. I Feel Love (3:13)
  11. Shadows Part 2 (3:53)
  12. What Is Rock (3:21)
  13. The Complex (3:53)
  14. Exhibit 13 (3:57)
  15. Mandelbro7 (3:53)

Released by: Lava
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 61:44