Thievery Corporation

Back in 1997, the world was thirsty for Thievery Corporation. European acts like Kruder and Dorfmeister and Fila Brazillia were ranking high on the IHI (International Hipster Index), and as Rob Garza and Eric Hilton rose from the D.C. underground with their late-night brand of smoky, dub-inflected beatscapes, downtempo coalesced into a true phenomenon. The duo continued to ride their cache into the new millennium, performing with a full band and Jamaican MCs, remixing jazz label Verve Records' extensive vaults, and cranking out three subliminally potent LPs of original material.

2005 finds Thievery releasing its fourth album, The Cosmic Game. Frankly, even with a slew of mad-genius guests and several rugged dancehall toasters -- plus the group's patently nonporous production -- it just doesn't matter much anymore. Reggaeton, baile funk, and Brazilian electro have moved Latin/Island rhythms into new, agitated realms, but Thievery remains as blunted as ever. Vocal contributions from Wayne Coyne and Perry Farrell are all but lost under a bottomless, reverbed haze, their sleepily warbled anti-establishment slogans (Wayne's "March the Hate Machines (into the Sun)" and Perry's "Revolution Solution") barely registering. And their remix of David Byrne's "Dance on Vaseline," from '99's Abductions and Reconstructions weighs heavier than their flimsy collabo here. The problem isn't a shortage of talent or faulty execution -- it's a matter of relevance.

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