Thievery Corporation 'Treasures from the Temple': Album Review
Forgiveness can be granted to musicians and producers alike that don't manage to sail effortlessly between the islands of musical genre, plucking the chosen fruits from each at their discretion and creating something truly original and distinctive as a result. Robert Garza and Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation need not ask for this pardon, however, as they've done exactly that for the better part of a quarter-century while losing no grip on the craft.
Garza & Hilton have fashioned well-earned love and respect in the musical underground as well as in mainstream circles, not least due to their expansive and accomplished reaches into downtempo, reggae, acid-jazz, dub, middle-eastern, electronica, bossa nova, trip-hop and more. Rather than resulting in an over-crowded sound salad, this eclectic scope of influence has lead to a collection of work, much of which sits in the ilk that would fittingly soundtrack a safari through underground Aztec temples, or befit the scene of a smoke-drenched shisha bar in a remote pocket of Morocco. Enough border hopping of musical walls is committed throughout TC's catalogue to reasonably assume Trump may well be devising a wall somewhere in retaliation.
Having continued where they left off in 2017 with 'the temple of I and I', the Washington duo deliver their companion album; 'treasures from the temple'. The LP features 12 original recordings and remixes, representing further yield from their round the clock sessions in Geejam Studios, Port Antonio, that lined the basis of their 2017 album.
The Jamaican birthplace of TC's 11th full-length LP is easily realised from the outset here as the opening track 'San San Rock' takes off with a snappy reggae baseline that begins to mingle with well placed horns in their rather trademark vogue. TC's rooted reggae influence is prominent throughout this LP which is evident most obviously with its use of bass, as well as timing and vocals. 'Music to make you stagger' and more explicitly 'Road Block' are picturesque reminders of this. TC go on to develop more dimensions from their reggae starting point here, with soft electric tones and twangy guitars, while building momentum and drive with their sharp use of drums.
The album also has no issue exercising TC's affinity to play with an array of synths and sound effects, from those employed somewhat cacophonously, yet playfully in 'Letter to the Editor', to the likes in "Guidance' which tend to wander in an out of the track, teasing presence and leaving room for everything else to breathe.
There is music that lands patently with a sense of purpose here. 'Destroy The Wicked' feels as though the featuring vocalist Notch is laying out the blueprint of a revolution, which is only garnished by the hypnotic melodies and layering of the track. Lighter moments among the typically thoughtful and contemplative nature of this record also begin to grow as the album progresses into its southern hemisphere, which only consolidates its overall credibility. 'Voyage Libre' sports a more upbeat sound that could easily tickle those with a habit for the French indie/alternative scene. The vocalist 'Lou Lou Ghelichkhani' appears on another number later in the tracklist and again delivers charm with her elegant voice. The appropriately placed final track of the album 'Waiting Too Long', is perhaps the most playful moment, and again soaks up the reggae vibes with grace. The albums overarching Jamaican focus inspires a lovely little nostalgia in this number, and an almost sentimental close to the LP that rings out nicely in one's ears.
As a piece among Thievery Corporations other works, this album may well sit perched among their best achievements. As you’d expect, a plethora of sounds and genres are experimented in the shape of reggae/dub, lounge, hip-hop, alternative and electronic worldly textures that are difficult to label in part because of the way they are fused and applied. This genius to blend and articulate traditional styles has always been imprinted deep in TC’ musical DNA, and treasures from the temple is another exercise in this, leaving many jewels and treasures to be found.
The needle drops worldwide on 'Treasures' from the Temple' on the 20th of April through ESL music.