Tuesday, June 28, 2011

REVIEW: New Thievery Corporation Album - Culture of Fear - plus free streaming...

Thievery Corporation released their 6th studio album today - "Culture of Fear." Being a die-hard fan of their sound - dubbed the "Outernational" Sound for their fusion of eastern, reggae, jazz, funk, hip hop and other-worldly beats - I instantly downloaded the album.

The album has a real downtempo flow, and doesn't includes some of the more electronic and reggae dance-hall type tracks that were prevalent on their last album, "Radio Retaliation." Instead, the first half of the album has a much more loungy jazz and funk feel, focusing less on synthesized sounds combined with international instruments like sitars and ethnic drums, and more on jazz drums, and roots rock guitar. This first half is reminiscent of the Cosmic Game - Thievery Corp's 4th album and one that was a departure from their signature "Outernational Sound." The title track - Culture of Fear - has an incredible flow delivered by Mr. Lif, though its lyrics and message is almost paranoid and conspiratory, I like the song itself but the tone of the lyrics can be distracting - even like the cover art to the album - the "big brother" like camera is mostly just disturbing and not very thought-provoking.

The second half of the album shifts a bit from the jazz and funk vibe, and is more dubbed and almost ambient in nature. It's much more reminiscent of their earlier albums, like "Sounds From the Thievery Hi-Fi" (my favorite album of theirs). I admit to being a Thievery purist - so this second half pleases me more than the first half of the album. Songs like "Is It Over" and "Free" are much more wandering and dynamic dreamscapes of songs that engage listeners in different ways, from deep bass and primal drums to ethereal synthesizers and siren-like female vocals. The track "Overstand" is a chilled reggae track, true to form of what we've also heard from Thievery Corporation's last album - Radio Retaliation.

Check out a teaser of the album below. For a limited time, Thievery Corporation is also letting fans stream the entire album for free here.


Anonymous said...

Totaly misunderstood the concept of name, idea, art cover and what this album, or even Thievery Corporation is about. Wrong review.

Downbeatscape said...

Hello Anonymous, thanks for reading and for your comment. I've been listening to Thievery, all ESL music, and all contributors for a long time, and have followed their political leanings, career and role in DC culture for years. This review more or less presents this work - Culture of Fear - and compares it to Thievery's entire body of work, expectations of their work today, and gives a nod to their tendency to explicitly include their political leanings. It'll be interesting to hear other people's interpretations. I do ask, when you comment next, to elaborate on your thoughts to enrich us all with the rationale behind your perspective - whether subjective or objective.

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