Thievery Corporation
Culture of Fear


3.5
great

Review

by Andru Okenuf USER (32 Reviews)
July 1st, 2011 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

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



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user ratings (33)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
SowingSeason STAFF (3)
Thievery Corporation manufactures an ethereal but slightly disappointing album for the masses....


Comments:Add a Comment 
aok
July 1st 2011


4433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yea - if you like this band you'll like this. If you don't know them, hit Mirror Conspiracy first.

Culture of Fear ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWvqkDvv4mE )

Take My Soul ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LZn98rEfFc )

Tower Seven ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t53txpcRvY )

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2011


15741 Comments


fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2011


31223 Comments


This one was a little disappointing

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
July 1st 2011


23848 Comments


cool, nice review, told me what I need to know

I didn't like the last one but you've convinced me to check this out. have a pos.

aok
July 1st 2011


4433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i actually liked this more than radio retaliation (pretty sure dev's referring to the album). kinda grouped similar tracks together but this is pretty far from a track by track.

aids, if you didn't like the last one i'm not sure you'd like this though tbh

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2011


7307 Comments


Great review. It is well-detailed and the flow from point to point is solid and coherent. The two comments I would humbly provide are: a.) that this paragraph: As soon as “Web of Deception” opens, a cloud of relief fell over me... really weakens the review (because it sounds a bit too personal + slightly fanboyish) and b.) I would skip putting a number at the end of the review (that's what the rating up top is for, see?).

Besides, who can tell the difference between a 3.4 and a 3.5, anyway? (this is why I disagree hugely with Pitchfork's rating system - how is a 5.7 significantly better than a 5.6?)

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

aok
July 1st 2011


4433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the only point i think of putting the 3.4 in there instead of the 3.5 is to say it's closer to a 3 than a 4 (sortof like how theneedledrop guy will say soft 7 or solid 7 to distinguish).

in terms of the personal thing i'll try to rework that sentence. cheers irving =)

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2011


7307 Comments


You're most welcome. I hope I wasn't too harsh-sounding or anything. I learned the hard way to be more cautious with delivering comments/criticism. I don't want folks to mistake my harshness for coldness. Just trying to be helpful in the most direct way possible.

=/?

But you're doing well. I remember reading your first review, and you were nowhere near this good back then. Keep it up, yeah?

aok
July 1st 2011


4433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

your input is always appreciated. looking forward to reading some lion king and beauty and the beast
from you as well.

it is kindof a balancing act we do, pretending to speak objectively about an album, when in the end we
cannot actually ignore personal bias completely.

ferociouslettuce
July 1st 2011


195 Comments


tend to stay away from track by tracks


doesn't really make any sense here ...

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2011


7307 Comments


Beauty and the Beast has actually been out for over a month, Andy ;)

Also this: it is kindof a balancing act we do, pretending to speak objectively about an album, which in the end we cannot actually neglect personal bias completely.

So much this.

eggsvonsatan
July 2nd 2011


1087 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, but the first paragraph is kind of blah. I agree what you said about thievery making music for everyone and all occasions. Don't necessarily see that as a bad thing though.

pizzamachine
July 2nd 2011


12571 Comments


it is kindof a balancing act we do, pretending to speak objectively about an album, when in the end we cannot actually ignore personal bias completely.

I was thinking about that the other day. Absolutely fascinating topic, gotta love ethics. Anyway, awesome review!


MaskAtTheMasquerade
July 2nd 2011


2887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great album, great read. Tower of 7 is on that CHILLOUT

aok
July 2nd 2011


4433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Don't necessarily see that as a bad thing though


1st paragraph was a critique on so many inaccessible albums and was complimenting thievery corp's ability to break the mold.

cheers all, and about that ethics topic -- i mean, it's impossible to avoid inserting some bias in your review, so my take is to be upfront about it while trying to reduce it at all costs. other people think differently?

AggravatedYeti
July 2nd 2011


7685 Comments


enjoyed this write up andy.

haven't listened to these guys since The Cosmic Game

ferociouslettuce
July 2nd 2011


195 Comments


haven't listened to these guys since The Cosmic Game


I liked this better than Radio Retaliation, Dev likes Radio Retaliation better than this. Bottom line is, even when they're not
great they're still pretty good.

cheers sam =)

aok
July 3rd 2011


4433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

aww, i got a secret anti-fan. care to say your name and talk to me?

eggsvonsatan
July 3rd 2011


1087 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think their best quality is making accessible music that is GOOD music as well. Most easily accessible music i could shit out of garage band in a hour.

aok
July 3rd 2011


4433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea - i just feel like these guys are unfairly shunned because they spend more time appreciating other sounds than making their own



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