Review Summary: Chill and easy on the ears
In music today, virtually no band wants to fit a mold, no band is happy when they’re grouped together with dozens of other bands, and every band wants to craft a sound that makes them special and sets them apart from the others around it. With virtually everyone and their mother trying to be a musician and throwing together a raw production whilst challenging you to be smart enough to “understand” their complex style, many music communities and music listeners have become so enamored by a small set of specific and strange set of sounds, feeling it gives them a sophisticated style and makes them unique. Others force themselves for hours to understand virtually incomprehensible beats, feeling that putting in the time to “get it” allows themselves the ability to appreciate better music.
As soon as “Web of Deception” opens, we're propelled instantly into a relaxed state of mind. This, like The Mirror Conspiracy
and so many other releases that have come to define Thievery Corporation (DJ duo Rob Garza and Eric Hilton), was already nearly guaranteed to be another smooth affair – the work of a pair of professionals who knew how to craft a refined sound for everybody to enjoy. “Tower of Seven” furthers this smooth aroma, embodying the alluring, accessible and easy to listen to music that Garza and Hilton strive to put out with every ESL Music label release.
Though notorious for crafting a more passive style of music than one that rewards active listening, here we see a more active Thievery Corporation attack the same question Barry Glasner, Noam Chomsky and a host of others struggle with, namely, why Americans are afraid of the wrong things. Mr. Lif
makes a noteworthy guest appearance on the title track and album highlight “Culture of Fear,” opening with ‘It seems to me they just want us to be afraid. Maybe we just like being afraid. Maybe we just so used to it … it’s just a part of our culture.’ “Where it all starts” is similar in spirit to the eponymous hip-hop track, with a musing female (Lou Lou
) attacking similar questions in alluring fashion, while “False Flag Dub (feat Ras Puma
)” manages to do so as well with Rastafarian beats urging us to be individuals.
The aforementioned Ras Puma also lends his voice to the reggae inspired “Overstand”, while Lou Lou, a favorite guest of the band, also contributes to “Take My Soul” and “Safar (the Journey)” with the former seducing me deeply with desire to be all the things she asks me to be. Though “Is it Over” largely fails at mixing a powerful beat with a soft female voice, “Free” puts things to a very tender close.
Though this seems more forced than The Mirror Conspiracy
, this is nonetheless an excellent release by a very consistent band. Critics of Thievery Corporation will say that their brand of polished trip-hop is lacking in personality, yet they create music for everyone and all occasions, and have managed a sound which borrows some of the best chilled out and hypnotic beats and merges them seamlessly with Reggae, Hip-Hop and R&B. In the end, Culture of Fear
speaks very poignantly to so much of what is happening today and is recommended to anyone and everyone.
3.4 / 5