Album Review: Thievery Corporation’s Treasures from the Temple

Thievery Corporation have been around nearly as long as I’ve been alive and so it makes perfect sense their music features an impressive array of dynamic sounds. The duo, originating from Washington D.C, banded together over their mutual love of the club life, and their appreciation for dub, Bossa nova and jazz. Over time, their international experiences and experimentation with differences types of music influences would ultimately create a duo with a sound like no other.

In 1996, Garza and Hilton released their first works of musical art when they started their Eighteenth Street Lounge Music record label. They’ve been releasing on a pretty regular basis since 1996, with “Sounds From The Verve Hi-Fi” being released in 2001, The Richest Man in Babylon, and a fifteen-track album released in 2002.

Over the six years, their music dabbled in and explored the sounds of Brazil with heavy latin jazz influences.

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Picture credit: themusic.com.au

In 2004, The Cosmic Game was released and featured a darker, more psychedelic sounds and had special guests including Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. 2006 was the year the duo released Versions,  and then Radio Retaliation in 2008 which was nominated for a Grammy. 2010 saw the release of Culture of Fear where listeners could witness the development of dub music into their works and it Saudade in 2014 saw a heavy French influence with softer vocals and allowing the listeners to feel a bit more chill than they would listening to more of their upbeat reggae, dub and jazzy tracks.

Of all of Thievery Corporation’s albums, no two are the same. In fact, their influences are on a global scale, with lyrics on their albums consisting of English, Spanish, French, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Romanian and even Hindi. They have an international view of the world which is very evident in the vast variety of their music sounds and additionally in their lyrics.

Well-known for their progressive political opinions on various issues, in the past they’ve introduce their stance on opposing war and the need to stand up for human rights and development of aid and food programs.

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So, with the announcement of their most recent album, Treasures from the Temple, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d listened to Voyage Libre previously, which is a melodic pop track with French lyrics. When I listened to the first song of the preview, San San Rock, I had to check my Soundcloud hadn’t played up and started playing a different artist.

It reminded me of when a significant portion of people downloaded an incorrect illegal torrent of Arcade’s Fire new album from Limewire, and reviewers were hectically arguing about the description of songs before they found out that some people were listening to entirely different music altogether.

But anyway, as I should have imagined, the entire album sounds as vastly diverse as all of their music put together. Each song of the list is completely different to the last one.

‘San San Rock’ is an ode to reggae, with bouncing bass lines that’s super down tempo, while ‘History ft. Mr. Lif & Sitali’, has a heavy hip hop influence with smooth vocals resembling a great man, Biggie Smalls.

‘Music to Make You Stagger’, is a UK influenced reggae track, with some additional trip-hop and dub effects on top, and is one of my personal favourites of the album.

‘Letter to The Editor ft. Racquet Jones (Thievery Remix)’ is a redo of the 2016 popular classic with internet listens in the millions, with fiesty and fiery lyrics over downtempo dub.

‘Destroy the Wicked ft. Notch’ is much more on the chill side, with ‘Guidance’ introducing a hypnotic space vibe to the synth chords in addition to glitchy off-beat sounds throughout the tune.

‘Water Under the Bridge ft. Natalia Clavier’ sounds nothing like any of the first few tracks, but instead features strong vocals from Natalia Clavier that would appeal to any Massive Attack fans.

‘Road Block ft. Racquet Jones (Thievery Remix)’ takes you back to the groovy dub vibe and ‘Joy Ride ft. Mr. Lif’ resembles a beautiful Portishead track but with dreamy hip-hop from Mr. Lif over the top.

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‘La Force de Melodie ft. LouLou Ghelichkhai’ reintroduces the duo’s favourite Brazilian inspired Bossa nova sound before ‘Waiting Too Long ft. Notch’ ends of the album with a familiar and more traditional-sounding version of very enjoyable and soothing reggae.

The album definitely features less opinions and political leaning than a lot of the other albums, which is surprising in this uneasy and unsettling day of age. Overall, Treasures from the Temple is an incredibly versatile and diverse album and there’s not a flaw I can consider in either the songs individually, or the make up of the album based on the wide-ranging variety of songs.

I would highly recommend anyone to listen this at home for a relaxing journey of worldly music from a very talented and dynamic duo that you’ll be repeat listening to again and again.