THIEVERY CORPORATION — “The Temple of I & I”
THE GOOD: Still held together by founders Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, Washington, D.C., DJ/producer/instrumentalist collective Thievery Corporation comes back with its ninth.
THE BAD: Like past releases, “Temple” is slick and addictive enough. However, is it wholly authentic? Dub, reggae, house, acid jazz, bossa nova — of course they’re all here. But is every individual genre the real deal or a semi-pale imitation? That determination is purely subjective.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Don’t strain yourself thinking about it too much, and “Temple” is still quite enjoyable. From Lou Lou Ghelichkhani’s charming warbling spread over the bouncy reggae punch of “Time and Space” to Elin Melgarejo’s more seductive delivery atop the spacey dub echoes of “Lose to Find,” bits of this record are downright dreamy.
And for those craving something more aggressive or politically charged, the thudding rhythms and cries for justice carrying “Ghetto Matrix” and “Fight To Survive” (both featuring vocals by long-time collaborator Mr. Lif) will suffice.
BUY IT?: Your call.
KID KOALA featuring EMILIANA TORRINI — “Music To Draw To: Satellite”
THE GOOD: Canadian DJ/producer/multi-instrumentalist Kid Koala (born Eric San) moves in a quieter direction.
THE BAD: Those hoping for another big dose of the guy’s mad turntable skills and banging beats won’t find it here.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Koala doesn’t even use his decks much, choosing instead to focus on cozy piano, warm synths, a dash of strings and only the sparsest beats. And then there’s Icelandic nymph Emeliana Torrini adding her soft melodic chirp to half the tracks; it’s the first time Koala worked extensively with any vocal collaborator. So if you were clamoring for HER next outing, “Satellite” should tide you over.
It’s a relaxing set eliciting a haunting yet pleasant atmosphere as opposed to something that demands your attention. Koala excels in these new surroundings, displaying yet another side to his (mostly) instrumental talents. Torrini’s voice also is the perfect, gentle complement to the man’s fragile underpinnings. It’s a musical match made in heaven … or deep space.
BUY IT?: Surely.
XIU XIU — “Forget”
THE GOOD: California indie experimental collective Xiu Xiu (still the brainchild of singer/songwriter Jamie Stewart) unleashes a dissonant 13th.
THE BAD: Xiu Xiu remains a polarizing act. You either embrace the insanity or you don’t. There’s no middle ground.
THE NITTY GRITTY: I tend to feel “unclean” after listening to a Xiu Xiu set. Stewart’s quivering vocals always sound like the man wants to stab you in the eye with a fork and he’s simply mustering up the courage to do so.
The backing tracks are either extremely loud and abrasive or very quiet and outright creepy. Electronic beats mix with live percussion, cold synths mesh with grinding strings, and bursts of noise break an uneasy tranquility. This is scary stuff.
However, some of “Forget” is also downright infectious. Tracks like “Wondering” and “Jenny GoGo” are some of the most melodic and danceable bits Stewart has produced in ages. A light at the end of the tunnel? Nah, he’s probably just drawing your attention away from that fork.
BUY IT?: Yep.