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Thievery Corporation. (Courtesy: Wikicommons)

Album review: Thievery Corporation’s ‘The Temple of I & I’

Since its last full-length album Suadade in 2014, production duo Thievery Corporation is back with a new record titled The Temple of I & I. The album was released Feb. 10 and features various artists throughout the 15-song tracklist. Although we hear some familiar voices such as Loulou Ghelichkhani and Shana Haligan, Thievery Corporation’s lounge-dub style switches focus to a more reggae adaptation in this new album, showcasing artists like Puma and Notch.

Right off the bat, The Temple of I & I begins with reggae artist Zee introducing the album by praising Jah and the true power of faith. The song is followed by three more rasta-flavored tacks including features from Mr. Lif and Racquel Jones. As I played through this section of the album for the first time, my spirits were dampened. I like reggae as much as the next guy, but I was expecting something more organic from the duo. While Thievery Corporation’s muted basslines and ambient percussion fits this reggae style like a glove, I was worried that the whole project was going to be songs to hit the bong to.

However, by the time the title track began playing, I was embraced by a song more characteristic of Thievery Corporation. A spaced-out ambience outlines the structure of the track with intermittent reggae samples sprinkled throughout. The more I listened to the song, the more I wished it were the first track on the album. It encompasses the LP well, showcasing the dreamy synths and the masterful muted bass that the band has made a staple, while dipping other sounds into a dubby reggae vibe.

Another stand-out track that accomplishes this is “Fight to Survive,” where Mr. Lif’s elaborate and political rhyme scheme is combined well with a more flavorful drum pattern and heavier basses.

Every track on The Temple of I & I oozes with Thievery Corporation’s quiet but deep production and fits well with most of the lyrics. While the more airy vocals of Ghelichkhani and Haligan maintain a soft innocence with themes of love and heartbreak, the reggae-centric tracks drip with constant political and social commentary typical of the genre.

However, some of these vocals clash in certain songs. In “Time+Space” Ghelichkhani’s light French lyrics disagree with the tension-filled string progressions that make up the foundation of the track, which left me a little confused about the tone of the song. While I had a similar feeling with the chorus of “Ghetto Matrix” — it would have sounded more concise with just the female vocals — these instances are few and far between. Overall, the production and tones of the album are tight and predictably consistent.

Although it may seem like I’m bashing this album, I do believe it is a beautifully produced piece with a strong reggae influence that I just was not expecting. Thievery Corporation has dipped its toes in a specific genre with its previous album too. After that release, I was expecting a more contained album such as with their prior albums Culture of Fear and It Takes a Thief, where the duo displays itself in a more pure fashion. Nevertheless, I would recommend this latest album to dread-heads and lounge enthusiasts alike. The Temple of I & I gets a 7.5 out of 10.

Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Alvaro Sanchez at alvaro.sanchez@colorado.edu.

About Alvaro Sanchez

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