Thievery Corporation (producers Eric Hilton and Rob Garza) introduced its sleek, sophisticated brand of down-tempo electronica on 1997's SOUNDS FROM THE THIEVERY HI-FI. Although later offerings by the duo (THE MIRROR CONSPIRACY and THE RICHEST MAN IN BABYLON) would display greater conceptual and sonic diversity, THIEVERY HI-FI lays the blueprint for everything that would follow. Mixing dub, trip-hop, ambient, and various Latin elements, Thievery Corporation makes deeply textured, genre-crossing chill-out music. (Hilton and Garza show a particular penchant for bossa nova--the album is dedicated to the memory of Antonio Carlos Jobim.)
"2001 Spliff Odyssey" works a pulsing programmed beat that plays host to a battery of voice samples and synthesizer effects, and "Universal Highness" employs a call-and-response vocal tag and staccato trumpet notes over an increasingly layered percussion track. The duo's Latin influence can be heard on "Scene at the Open Air Market," and on the intro to "The Glass Bead Game," while the atmospheric sway of "Manha" conjures up the feel of an Astrud Gilberto tune. The tracks flow together remarkably well, making SOUNDS FROM THE THIEVERY HI-FI a sultry soundtrack for anything from swanky social gatherings to solo headphone listening.
Spin (10/97, pp.138-140) - 8 (out of 10) - "...not only the deepest groove record since Massive Attack's BLUE LINES but lushly unironic at its core....SOUNDS FROM THE THIEVERY HI-FI is dedicated to the memory of Brazilian legend Antonio Carlos Jobim, which makes perfect sense for a record that swings so hard and sways so gentle."
Option (7-8/97, p.132) - "...Equal parts dub, hip-hop, bossa nova-inflected Latin and reggae, SOUNDS signals a great artistic advance from earlier works..."