By Paul Sullivan
When the Thievery Corporation debuted back in 1997 with Sounds From The Thievery Hi Fi, they bewitched heads from Washington to Watford with their dub-wise voodoo and slick downtempo grooves.
Following two more solid albums (The Mirror Conspiracy, The Richest Man in Babylon), a couple of tasteful compilations (Sounds From the Verve Hi-Fi, Outernational Sound) and a pair remix collections the duo now present what is undoubtedly their best work since The Mirror Conspiracy back in 2000.
In recent interviews the immaculately dressed duo have spoken of being informed and enlightened by various conspiracy theories and "mind-opening literature".
Perhaps this was the motive behind the subversive shtick of the first single from the album, "Revolution Solution" - a steadfast blend of soporific dub-grooves matched to the vocals of Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. While not exactly an inflammatory call to arms, it reminded us perfectly of their pair's gorgeously orotund sound.
Farrell is a big name to have on the album, but he's in good company. The album's opener 'Marching the Hate Machines (Into the Sun)' features Flaming Lips' pseudo-crooner Wayne Coyne, who adds his low-key sing-speak vocals to another outstanding slice of slow-burning electronica.
Slightly more distinctive is the tune that involves ex-Talking Heads star David Byrne, "The Heart's a Lonely Hunter". Arrestingly odd lines like "Welcome to my spaceship..." etc.) are carried by a delightfully catchy and upbeat afrobeat rub, creating easily the most charming cut on the album.
There are more not-so-famous guests too. Sleepy Wonder adds ragga flavour to the rousing brass and hip hop plod of 'Warning Shots', while Gigi Rezende does a glorious job on of the several Latino jaunts, 'Pela Janela (Through the Window)'.
Given the producers solid production status, it's no surprise that their instrumentals hold their own against the vocal material.
Entwining compelling melodies, exotic vocals and ethnic sounds (sashaying samba percussion, reverberating, weed-heavy basslines, spiritual sitars), they create captivating bridges between tracks and help create a mellifluous vibe throughout.
Once again Thievery Corporation demonstrate a grandeur and stylistic prowess that remains all but peerless in today's saturated world of downtempo electronica.