Label: Eighteenth street lounge music
Thievery Corporation are without a doubt one of the most relevant and important electronica, lounge/fusion acts today. The Washington D.C duo consistently manage to produce slick, sophisticated LPs with influences spanning from trip-hop, to World music to Jamaican Dub. Moreover, they collaborate with an array of mainstream and underground artists, spanning from Rock Band Flaming lips to Composers such as Anoushka Shankar and Femi Kuti.
These simple works of musical genius are essentially what give this duo such an appeal when we consider the state of current, popular music. The music dominating the charts is seriously lacking any sort of longevity and any spark of musical innovativeness. The group’s latest and previous efforts oppose this in a profound fashion and for that reason alone, Thievery Corporation deserve all the commendation they receive, if not more; especially when considering their rise to fame has come as a result of hard graft through an independent label for the last two decades. What appeals most about ‘The temple of I & I’, their tenth LP to date, is that once you listen to the whole thing through it becomes apparent that their vision was perhaps to encompass as many attributes from their previous projects into one.
Opening track, ‘Thief Rockers’ is a spacious, ambient number that ascends into a world of trippy synths and strings, carrying a strong Dub and Trip-hop feel. The spoken word and smooth Jamaican vocal provided by Zee along with the classic, looping bassline make this track captivating and one of the easiest grooves on the record. What’s nice about this track is the signature Thievery Corporation feel which doesn’t feel too distant from some of their most beloved work from projects such as ‘Saudade’ and ‘Culture of Fear’.
Whether or not you were already a fan of their previous work, this opener does a fine job of settling its listener into the record. ‘Love has no heart’ holds a very similar, downtempo vibe too. The first half of the record mainly comprises of Electro-dub tracks, a highlight being ‘True sons of Zion’ – The first remotely anthemic, positive sing-along you will encounter when indulging in this record. Tracks like this and ‘Ghetto Matrix’ are perhaps the more radio friendly numbers on here which have a simple, fluent pop structure…It is only when we reach the second half of the record do things become seriously ambient and immersive. ‘Time + Space’ is a prime example, with an impeccably suited, reverb heavy vocal from Loulou Ghelichkhani which sores through the track effortlessly. This potent theme carries through from Track six until ten, before the focus becomes more about the heavy dub beats and profound, peace condoning lyrical themes such as ‘Drop your guns’. It is all of these attributes within the record combined that really prove its sheer strength and musical diversity.
To summarise, this is a highly-recommended listen. Thievery Corporation have once again managed to encapsulate a vast amount influences into one record that takes you on a musical journey to say the least. With such influences spanning from all over the world and a tasteful and diverse assortment of songs and production, these combined attributes really prove that Thievery Corporation’s ability to continue their legacy at an incredibly high-standard remains. Also, their efforts to translate peace and harmony through their lyrics and musical styles are also a big contribution to their authenticity and artistic value overall.
The Washington D.C based duo seem as strong as they were when their career took off twenty years ago, and that’s saying something. Thievery’s new record is vast, enlightening, consistent but above everything, Timeless.
Words by Joe Glover