Thievery Corporation / Best 1996—2018

George Palladev 12.12.2022

Thievery Corporation / Best 1996—2018

At the end of the spring of 1995, former punk Rob Garza and his friends were heading to one of the city bars, not knowing that the upcoming meeting would be fateful for him. In the Eighteenth Street Lounge, full of chic, glitter, beauty and bossa nova, previously unknown to Garza, he met one of the owners of the bar—Eric Hilton. It turned out they had a lot of mutual friends, but the guys themselves had never seen each other before. It also turned out that they had a lot of common musical interests. It seems that it was then that they came up with this project, combining each other’s modest equipment to start recording music in one of the rooms of the bar.

By the way, both Hilton and Garza can’t really explain how they created the band which they have been touring with for about two decades. They just made their first singles, many labels liked them, and since then their music has been in great demand. Thievery Corporation successfully rode the wave of soft and calm music, which everyone eagerly bought in the 90s. The name of the duo, which would be ideal for a gangsta rap band, can be explained by their early endeavours: they took samples for their first works from other people’s tracks. “When we started, we were influenced by music from all over the world, flipping through bins in second hand record stores for LP’s from Brazil, India, Iran, Jamaica, jazz records. We wanted to make music where you didn’t know whether it was recorded today or a decade ago.” recalled Garza.

Ironically, they castigate American militarism and capitalism while living in Washington D. C., the capital of the United States, which contains all the offices of power. After all, the White House, the Senate, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Treasury, the World Bank, the IMF, the FBI and all ministries (with the exception of the Pentagon) are there. All the so-called federals who rule the country and the world are based in this Babylon, which is sung about in reggae records as the first big city on Earth, an evil city that oppressed ordinary people and spread poverty. “Babylon must fall” has been the constant refrain of Rastafarianism for many decades. As a result, some of the group’s discs have the caption “Handcrafted in Babylon”.

Their guest musicians and singers come from Iran, Jamaica, India, Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, and their home, the US. Journalists joke: “They group of singers might be mistaken for a U.N. mission”. Garza and Hilton cultivate the so-called outernational sound—a mixture of music of different peoples and cultures. “We always wondered: with so much incredible music in the world, why would anyone limit themselves to one genre? Well, we found out it’s far easier to stay in one lane than to genre hop!” laughs Hilton. Starting with music for nonexistent spy movies, mixing it with Brazilian jazz, Jamaican reggae, ska and dub, oriental spices and Indian haze, weaving in space guitar rock, ragga, rap and continuing with downtempo music, after 20 years they reached their cherished goal recording a Jamaican album with Jamaican equipment on Jamaican soil. Then, they got to rearrange their famous tunes for a symphony orchestra, a natural step for an electronic musician who has already achieved everything.

Today we have a collection of the best duo pieces from 22 years of work. The whole variety of albums, singles and remixes of Thievery Corporation fits into no less than a 5-hour mix. More good music to love.