Thievery Corp. Shows Human Side Of Electronica

Excerpted from the magazine for

Thievery Corporation masterminds Eric Hilton and Rob Garza create warm and soulful dance/electronic music. In fact, the duo's music actually feels like it was made by human beings, which isn't always the case on the electronic landscape.

"We're not big fans of cold, canned electronic music," Hilton says. "For Rob and I, that's like making music with the sounds that came with the gear you happen to be using. We want our music to sound as far from electronic as possible.

"Actually," Hilton continues, "the term 'electronic' works against the music, because people then think of the electronics behind the music and not the humans making the music. Yet electronic music can be very personal music."

Hilton and Garza are purveyors of a personal, intimate sound. For proof, look no further than the duo's two studio recordings: 1996's "Sounds From the Thievery Hi-Fi" and 2000's "The Mirror Conspiracy," which, according to Nielsen SoundScan, have sold 33,000 and 119,000 units in the U.S., respectively.

On Oct. 1, Thievery Corporation will continue this musical tradition with the arrival of the wickedly introspective and contemplative "The Richest Man in Babylon." Like its predecessors, it arrives via the act's own label, the Washington, D.C.-based/Caroline-distributed Eighteenth Street Lounge (ESL) Music, named after the duo's Eighteenth Street Lounge nightclub in Washington, D.C. "The Richest Man in Babylon" has already been licensed to Sounds of Barclay in France and Shock in Australia. International releases are expected to coincide with the domestic release.

The collection features vocal contributions from Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini ("Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes"), Persian/French chanteuse LouLou ("Omid [Hope]"), Cape Verdian vocalist Patrick de Santos ("Meu Destino [My Destiny]"), and Shinehead ("The State of the Union"), among others.

As on past Thievery Corporation albums, the musically rich "The Richest Man in Babylon" mirrors the duo's personal musical tastes: jazz, reggae-dub, hip-hop, cinematic excursions, and bossa nova. "We have the luxury of incorporating many elements into our music," Hilton explains. "In this way, we break the rules a bit."

Upon hearing this, ESL Music label manager Kalani Tifford smiles. "Their music has a richness, a fullness, an organic quality," Tifford notes. "Most electronic-based music is sterile- and bottled-sounding. Thievery's music is the antithesis to this. There is a definite energy in their music-coupled with a vibrancy that's not always present in contemporary electronic music."

The label's Web site ( will begin selling the album -- replete with a 52-page Neal Ashby-designed CD booklet, containing photography by Hector Emanuel, Bill Crandall, and Daniel Cima -- two weeks before its commercial release. Additionally, limited-edition prints of the CD booklet's artwork will be available for sale on the site.

Fans of Thievery Corporation can expect a European tour to commence Oct. 4 in Paris, followed by a North American trek kicking off Oct. 30 in Vancouver.

Excerpted from the Aug. 31, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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