Settling down to record at a residency in Port Antonio, Jamaica, Washington, D.C.-based DJ collective Thievery Corporation has emerged with their 10th studio album, The Temple of I & I. Diving deep into reggae and dancehall beats, Thievery Corporation have brought in a number of Jamaican musicians and lyricists to add authenticity and depth to these new tracks. The record also dips into electronica, trip-hop and hip-hop that has more in common with previous releases. While The Temple of I & I has several strong cuts, others seem like an outsider peering in on the culture and music of Jamaica.
Taking influence from dub and dancehall, the tracks with guest appearances from Notch and Racquel Jones probably show the Thievery Corporation’s biggest impact from living on the island. “Letter to The Editor” has cutting lyrics above a pulsing bassline and mellow synths. Similarly “Weapons of Distraction” has beautiful, melodic vocals and catchy horn hooks.
In a different and perhaps more authentic-sounding direction, there are several cuts that veer towards eletronica and trip-hop. “Time + Space” mixes haunting vocals from Loulou Ghelichkhani in both English and French. “Love has No Heart” follows suit and its chorus brings to mind Portishead’s classic, “Only You.” Two tracks that feature Mr. Lif bring some East Coast hip-hop flavor, making the record fairly eclectic.
The Temple of I & I has slick, easy to listen to production and some strong tracks that draw from a variety of genres. However, for those who are looking for gritty dub or reggae, it’s perhaps best to look elsewhere.