The Thievery Corporation is proof that giving artists control of their music can be a good thing. The group's debonair songwriters/producers Eric Hilton and Rob Garza own their own Washington, D.C.-based club and label, called the Eighteenth Street Lounge and Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, respectively. Housed in a loft space above a mattress store, the club/label has given Hilton and Garza the freedom to experiment at will, and the pinstriped suit-clad duo have taken full advantage of that luxury. Just this year, they've backed Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto on her eloquent debut, compiled their favorite soundtrack music for a Verve compilation, and recorded a cover of Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" for a tribute album. On their latest release, The Mirror Conspiracy
, they delve into influences that have been latent in the past, namely dub and bossa nova.
"Treasures," the album's opening track, sets the tone for the record. It features dancehall vocals by Brother Jack, dub-inspired bass riffs, and atmospheric beats that sound both sophisticated and avant-garde. Much of The Mirror Conspiracy is admittedly too laid-back and detached for its own good -- it ultimately makes for better background music than dance floor fodder. Yet it's still a well-executed affair that's carried as much by Hilton and Garza as by their collaborators. Pam Bricker adds moody vocals and Robert Berimbau provides the Latin-tinged percussive backbeat to the title track; sitar player Rob Myers injects "Lebanese Blonde" with an Eastern element, and countless other musicians add horns, vocals, and guitars, all of which suggest the truly global nature of the Thievery Corporation's music.