As Thievery Corporation, Eric Hilton and Rob Garza started working together in the mid-1990s, crafting a sound initially rooted in electronica, but deeply influenced by dub, Latin jazz, and bossa nova. Their atmospheric, low-key style has made the Washington, DC-based duo sought-after remixers as well as popular recording artists, and they've worked their sonic magic on everyone from Stereolab to David Byrne.
Rob Garza and Eric Hilton consider it their most introspective work to date. Existing somewhere between rock, dub, psychedelic, Latin, and electronic music, this 2002 album finds the duo elevating their signature sound with more contemplative and thought-provoking songwriter. The jewel case is housed in a slipcase along with a 40-page black & white photo booklet. Eighteenth Street Lounge. 2002.
Thievery Corporation's Eric Hilton and Rob Garza have always treated the line between acoustic and electronic music as a drunken sailor might, unpredictably falling on one side or the other with equal frequency. By this measure, The Richest Man in Babylon is their soberest effort to date, striding confidently into jazz, soul, world beat, and other styles with a direct, reverential approach. The band's last record, Sounds from the Verve Hi-Fi, featured a set of classic jazz tunes unadorned with remixes or reinterpretation. But the songs on Babylon are originals, incorporating not just jazz but Afro-beat, Brazilian dance, Persian and Indian music, reggae, and psychedelia, all while making expert use of new and old collaborators like Sleepy Wonder, Lou Lou, and Shinehead. Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini makes an instant impression on the first track, "Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes," her voice freeing the song's melody and structure with just a few hypnotic bars. It's hard to call this an electronic record at all; even their dub-influenced tracks miss a certain studio sheen, as if Hilton and Garza simply waded into a sweltering Jamaican beach party and hit record. But while it misses the ambient, ethereal edge that made The Mirror Conspiracy a downtempo classic, Babylon satisfies with organic energy and tasteful eclecticism. --Matthew Cooke
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