Thievery Corporation: The Richest Man in Babylon (ESL)

Instruments such as sitar and lyrics sung in Farsi stand side-by-side with reggae and Brazilian samba-infused numbers.

For fans of lounge/electronic music, Thievery Corporation’s first two albums, as well as their DJ Kicks release, are essential listening. On their latest effort, The Richest Man in Babylon, Eric Hilton and Rob Garza confirm that TC is still a “must-have” investment.

Just as on previous albums, there are a variety of musical influences and unique instrumentation here. But Thievery Corporation makes much more of this than just a sampling of sounds from different parts of the world. With tracks featuring instruments such as sitar and lyrics sung in Farsi (by Loulou) standing side-by-side with reggae and Brazilian samba-infused numbers, TC manage to make the listener realize that we’re all not as far apart as we might think. And as a body of work, the tracks all gel in way that make The Richest Man in Babylon feel like a picture that comes together very neatly with pieces you might never have thought were from the same puzzle.

One of the best things about the lounge/electronic music genre is that it makes for great wallpaper. You can just put it on and go about your business without having to concentrate too much on what’s being said. The Richest Man In Babylon certainly has the kind of laidback vibe that allows you to do that, but in doing so, you will also miss out on some great lyrics. As on the opening track “Heaven’s Gonna Burn Your Eyes” when vocalist Emiliana Torrini asks, “Do you applaud fear/Do you hold it near/Are you afraid to live your life/The way I perceive?” When you hear her voice, you’ll know the answer to that question can only be “Yes.”

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