DJs Rob Garza and Eric Hiltonhave been producing music for over fifteen years as Thievery Corporation, bringing in dozens of supporting artists along the way. By their sixth studio album, the duo has settled comfortably into their niche genre of world-infused electronica. But even halfway through the second decade of their career, this group has a few more tricks up its sleeve.
Thievery Corporation released Culture of Fear, their first studio album in almost three years, on June 28th. The album unfolds in a much different way than it initially presents itself. With its grim title and bleak album art reminiscent of a 1984 book jacket, Culture of Fear promises to be a dark and disheartening ride. But Thievery Corporation’s newest album is a multifaceted one, shifting themes and moods depending on the angle from which it’s viewed. The album uniformly delivers more of the bohemian style that fans have come to love, though. Tastes of reggae, hip-hop, trance, and funk are all traded out, intermingled, and mashed up throughout the album.
Culture of Fear opens with the funky yet grounded “Web of Deception,” whose only reminder of its ominous nature is the vocalist’s repeating truth— “All that they weave is a web of deceit.” The lyrics of the free-spirited “Overstand” serve a similar purpose, delivering a much heavier message than the tune implies.
The same can be said of the album’s hip-hop title track. “Seems to me like they want us to be afraid, man. Or maybe we just like being afraid,” cooly intones Boston’s Mr. Lif. As one of many featured artists to join the Corporation over the years, Mr. Lif adds a quick-witted spin to the groups politically charged album. Fellow collaborator Shana Halligan (of Bitter:Sweet) lends her satin vocals to the duo’s simmering production of “Is It Over?”
The real glue of the album is the sweeping instrumentals like the warm and radiating “Light Flares.” “Tower Seven” is floating and tantric while “Fragments” drifts along in mellowed colors with a sort of worn majesty.
This Thievery Corporation album has been a long time coming, and it’s a welcome addition to their canon. In one instance, it’s the same tried and true sound the group has always produced, comfortable and relaxed. In another, its strains of outspoken dogma on policy, war, and hunger are urgent and pleading. And there’s the true beauty of it. Taken either way, Culture of Fear is a powerful album.
Take a listen to this "Teaser", a 5 minute mashup of tracks off the album.