Culture of Fear - Thievery Corporation

ESL Music

In deference to my sweetheart, who retains a not guilty at all affection for the music of Wang Chung, I dredge up this couplet from Dancehall Days; “Take your baby by the ears, and play upon her darkest fears.” It’s an approach Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have incorporated to their benefit, through their last two albums especially. Both 2008’s Radio Retaliation and, just in time for summer 2011, Culture of Fear take gloom and doom and transform it into something beautiful and uplifting. Face it, with cyber espionage, identity theft and the ever-present unblinking eye of the security camera tracking our every move, we have every reason to be looking over our shoulders to see who’s looking back. The all black album cover of Culture of Fear immediately plays on those fears with the image of a ceiling-mounted, half-globe security camera. Encased within, its single eye casts a HAL-like presence. You could almost imagine hearing a dead-pan, “Sorry, I can’t do that, Dave”. MC Mr. Lif tackles the issue mouth to mic on the title track, prefacing his flow by musing, “ Security alert on orange … it’s been orange since 01, G! I mean, can’t a brother get yellow, just for two months or something?” All the while, Thievery’s pumping out another one of their signature bass grooves to launch a shakin’ and ultimately enlightened reggaefied, hip hop joint. Another fave features bright light, Ras Puma blessing False Flag Dub. Introducing interesting new voices is what the duo do do so well. Persian songstress LouLou sets the mood for Safar (The Journey) and two other stand-outs. Toaster, Sleepy Wonder is back in the fold, delivering Stargazer and newcomer Kota soars lighter than air on the closer, Free. Fat beats, b-boy breaks and jazzy instrumentals round out a package that, like a good book at the beach, can delve into the dark, but also warms and satisfies with continued exposure.