Thievery Corporation - The Temple of I & I
Temple of I & I
You would be hard pressed to find a duo who has had more of an impact on electronica than Thievery Corporation. Their name is almost synonymous with the genre at this point. However longtime fans have seen their invention and novelty fade as they dig deeper and deeper into their own sound. This newest record, their eighth, goes almost fully into the dub and reggae leaving behind some of the downtempo electronica that made them popular. At times the record will throw a splash of that former greatness but also only rarely gets out of a dub jam. The features are also interesting in that they sound like really popular artists, but just slightly off. "Ghetto Matrix" with Mr. Lif sounds like an old school hip hop track but has nothing to say about what is happening today. There is nothing wrong with being evocative of the past, but when the entire crux of your music is based on something else it never works. "True Sons of Zion" sounds like the most basic reggae song you've ever heard and does absolutely nothing to dissuade that feeling. The title track shifts things back towards the electronica side, but on an album this massive it is only a brief foray in where the sound should be. The world music feel on songs like "Time + Space" all sung in French feels so outdated at this point, but justs under the surface is this glitched almost electronic scratch letting you know that deep down Thievery Corporation still have something left in the tank.
The later half of the record is better than the first, but god does it drag. Everything sounds like so much of the same that it eventually becomes noise. With downtempo electronica that is always the risk, but here they just seem to not care. The surface level conclusions about gun violence, the political system and any other hot button topic are maddening. Even if this was just a reggae concept record it sticks with the bit for far too long making it sound more frustrating than exciting. This album sounds like music you hear in the background of a hip restaurant or clothing store playing way louder than you'd like but never making any kind of lasting impact. Who knows where Thievery Corporation are going in the future but for now it seems playing it safe and barely doing enough is their default setting. It's too bad.
5.3 out of 10