Release Date: 10.01.02
Record label: esl music
A Commendable Performance
by: nick evans
“Chill Out” music, a subgenre of trip hop and techno, was once a hotbed for new and ambitious artists. Tricky’s Maxinquaye and Portishead’s Dummy were selling moderately well in the mid 90’s, backed by even more critical praise. But those glory days are now pretty much over, and the record industry knows that these type of albums just don’t sell. It’s pretty rare these days to stumble across a fresh down-tempo album, but its even more remarkable to come across Richest Man in Babylon. It contains a stunningly original and fresh sound from the Washington D.C. duo, Thievery Corporation.
While in their past couple of albums, they have produced some of the best down tempo music to date, this album mixes Middle Eastern/Indian influences and sounds with their signature style to make an irresistible sound all to itself. The album would stand well as a new age record, but they add their signature touch and make it something very special. The album itself comes with a 40 page booklet of photos of various people from third world countries; capturing the poverty and tragedy those people face. While the album’s lyrics don’t really capitalize on this issue, the lyrics that the disc does contain talk of peace and unabashedly standing up for what you believe in.
The album has an irresistible flow to it, and there isn’t really much to compare it to, except perhaps an old Enigma record. The disc takes you to another place—you can almost imagine yourself on the tour through India. The songs are exotic and at times very jazz-tinged, even adding horns and clarinets. On “Liberation Front”, they even get stir things up and get a little funky. It’s an album to be taken as a whole, and as an experience, rather than dissecting every song for what it is. As much as it could be used to listen to intently on your headphones, it just as well can be used for background music for a cocktail party. There just isn’t anything out there even remotely similar to this, and I commend them for it. 01-Aug-2003 8:40 PM