Thievery Corporation

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Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi , 7/10
Mirror Conspiracy , 6/10
The Richest Man In Babylon , 5/10
The Outernational Sound (2004), 4/10
The Cosmic Game (2005), 5/10
Radio Retaliation (2008), 4.5/10
Culture of Fear (2011), 4.5/10

(Clicka qui per la versione Italiana)

Thievery Corporation is the project of two Washington (D.C.) disc jockeys, Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, who first met in 1995, when Hilton opened the Eighteenth Street Lounge A passion for reggae, bossanova and jazz led to the ultra-drugged dub singles 2001 Spliff Odyssey (Eighteenth Street Lounge, 1996), Shaolin Satellite and Universal Highness.

Debut album Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi (Eighteenth Street Lounge, 1996 - 4AD, 1998) introduced mainly a duo of expert sampler manipulators. Languid dub grooves (less reverbed and more upbeat than in Jamaica), particularly dilated in 2001 Spliff Odyssey and Universal Highness, and laid-back hip-hop beats led to drowsy ambient tracks that sound like slow-motion, cubist versions of action movies soundtracks. A Warning Shaolin Satellite Vivid Manha The Glass Bead Game The Foundation Interlude The Oscillator So Vast As The Sky .38 .45 (A Thievery Number) Walking Through Babylon coined a trip-hop sound drenched in a surreal caribbean cocktail-lounge atmosphere.

Abductions And Reconstructions (Eighteenth Street Lounge, 1999) is a mediocre album of remixes.

Another volume of remixes, DJ Kicks (K7, 1999), contains a classy take on their fusion of exotica and dub, It Takes A Thief.

Mirror Conspiracy (Eighteenth Street Lounge, 2000) is marred by excessive doses of Brazilian suadade, although the too-smooth Samba Tranquille is redeemed by the sprightly Air Batucada. Otherwise the duo's stylish touch is still raping dub echoes (Treasures, Shadows of Ourselves, Le Monde). and heavenly movie soundtracks (Focus On Sight, The Hong Kong Triad). Their fusion of bossanova, funk, hip hop, reggae and now even middle-eastern folk (Indra, Lebanese Blonde) has never been more confident, but their postmodern exercise runs the risk of taking all the fun out of the genres they (ab)use.

The Richest Man In Babylon (Eighteenth Street Lounge, 2002) is not so much pan-ethnic as pan-atmospheric. They do quote Middle Eastern music (the ethereal instrumental Facing East for oud and violin, the drunken Omid), Latin music (the Afro-Cuban Exilio, the bossanova Meu Destino), Jamaican music (the dub nirvana of The Outernationalist, the reggae-pop of The State of the Union, From Creation), and mix it with American music (the instrumental Liberation Front propelled by James Brown-ian horns), but in the most shamless vein of exploitation (pure syntax, no semantics). It is not surprising that the overall effect is one of a film-noir soundtrack, a more intense and cathartic version of Barry Adamson's imaginary scores (particularly Until The Morning, but also Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes Out, sung by Icelandic vocalist Emiliana Torrini, a radio-friendly trip-hop number). As purveyors of form over substance, the duo behind Thievery Corporation is beginning to deserve its name. Their fusion is the opposite of "adventurous".

Parts of The Outernational Sound (18th Street Lounge, 2004) are unusually lively and bouncy, but that is not enough to digest all the filler that is stuffed into the album.

A crowd of international guests turns The Cosmic Game (ESL Music, 2005) into their most sophisticated attempt at ethnic jazz-dub fusion. The results are largely formal, yielding elegant ballads such as Marching The Hate Machines (featuring the Flaming Lips), acid shuffles such as Holographic Universe, and assorted world-music such as Amerimacka.

Radio Retaliation (2008) and Culture of Fear (2011) were full of repetitions of old ideas, and not particularly well rehashed.

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