Thievery Corporation Radio Retaliation Review

Released 2008.  

BBC Review

There is something dignified about the Corporation's approach...

Daryl Easlea 2008

Washington DC's Thievery Corporation have, for the past decade, provided a sleek, seductive sound that grew out of the trip-hop craze of the late 90s. Based around two DJS with impeccable taste, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, they operate out of their Eighteenth Street Lounge club, marrying diverse beats with a parade of impressive left-field guest vocalists. In the past, artists as notable as David Byrne, Perry Farrell and Bebel Gilberto have all lent their voice to Garza and Hilton’s beats.

There is something dignified about the Corporation's approach, which is part deeply exploratory and part 'if-it-ain’t-broke-don't-fix-it'. And it's when these two styles clash you have the heart of their operation – say, here when the horns kick in on Mandala after Anoushka Shankar has played her fiery sitar, it is at once familiar and quite unsettling. Go-go avatar and fellow Washingtonian Chuck Brown's contribution on The Numbers Game shows how hard and funky the ensemble can be; Femi Kuti underlines the group's ever-present political agenda with his spirited vocals on Vampires. The dreamy ambience of single Sweet Tides and the blank beats of Beautiful Drug demonstrate why the Thievery Corporation are still very much at the peak of their powers.

But the group are at their most successful when they are using in-house vocalists Sleepy Wonder and Notch, on their dub-soaked confections such as the affectionate Tenor Saw homage Sound The Alarm and Blasting Through The City, which reconnects us back to the Thieverys' earliest work, most notably 2001: A Spliff Odyssey.

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