Thievery Corporation live up to their name perfectly, on their latest release, The Temple of I & I. Rob Garza and Eric Hilton function as the CEOs of this beloved musical corporation that takes from the finest of sources and makes sonic gold for the masses. On The Temple of I & I, they set out to fully capture the sound and spirit of all aspects of Jamaican music and refocus it with their own distinctive flair.
Thievery Corporation do a remarkable job of finding a balance of influences on The Temple of I & I. Recorded in Jamaica, the record is riddled with the band’s patented island influences, though it still makes a point to include all sorts of funky rock goodness. The band never holds back when discussing important topics, but song selection and order prevent the new album from falling too hard in any particular stereotypical direction. The Temple Of I & I parties at times, protests at others, and never fails to groove from cover to cover. Garza, Hilton and their mix of all-stars and rookie sensations have crafted a head boppin’, thought provoking album for all ages and mindsets to enjoy equally.
“Thief Rockers” gets the party started with a low key pulsing and throbbing vibe. The song’s seductive beat rolls strongly, as waves of reverb come flowing in over grooves as deep as the ocean. Raquel Jones brings a fresh flavor as the newest contributor to the Corporation with fierce, politically charged rhymes about equality and hypocrisy. She spits quick and doesn’t waste a breath or syllable on “Letter To The Editor,” blending hope and condemnation in equal parts.
Long time Thievery Corporation vocalist Notch Howell flows well with the horn section on “Strike The Root.” While “Ghetto Truth” expounds on the system that confines the meek, “True Sons Of Zion” calls on us all to fight for freedom. Layering messages and music with similar themes gives The Temple of I & I a resonance that elevates and educates while it entertains. When the mostly instrumental title track rolls in, no words are needed to convey the message of resistance and watchful eye towards the coming dawn.
The Temple of I & I, and each track on it, is packed with an awe inspiring sphere of influences that all get their moment in the sun. The sultry and smoldering strains of “Love Has No Heart” and the strident call to action “Fight To Survive” co-exist seamlessly. This sonic alchemy is due to a unified underlying commitment to authenticity, reinforced by on location recording sessions and home grown collaborations. When album closer “Drop Your Guns” fires up and Notch takes the last turn at the mic his calls for peace are a fitting attempt to learn the lessons that precede it.
The driving vision behind The Temple of I & I was to pay full respect to the dub element that has been a large part of Thievery Corporation’s sound from day one. The deft touch and keen shown by masterminds Garza and Hilton over the course of their career has never been better utilized than on their latest release. In crafting an album that is patently authentic and undeniably engaging, the duo has demonstrated a mastery of adaptation beyond question. The Temple of I & I is destined to be be a fixture at summer parties and year end top ten lists around the world, and deservedly so.