Rare-groove duo Thievery Corporation may fall under the general classification of electronica, but their album Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi, like much of their music, is such a confluence of subgenres that techno fans might not find what they're looking for in it. This record is electronic in that nearly everything heard on it has been tweaked in the studio, but almost all of the actual synth sounds on Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi lie in the background. What carry each song are recordings of actual instruments, either live or sampled, mixed to create the arc of the specific track. Add a smattering of vocal samples, and the result is the love-child of Massive Attack and Mondo Grosso, a trip-hoppy, acid jazz mutant that will make you want to dance, have sex, or lounge by the pool (if you're not left walking in confused circles, trying to figure out which one). That seems to be the CD's only real weakness: the seams that bind the various influences involved in the music can be a bit ragged, leading to some songs that come off as awkward, rather than eclectic. The amalgamations throughout most of the disc are quite effective, however. The track "Scene at the Open Air Market," for instance, sounds like the melody is played on a xylophone, before switching to perhaps an accordion, eventually coming to sound like a mixture of lounge music, rhumba, and Eastern European folk -- but sexy. The samples of a man yelling reggae-style shout-outs during "2001 Spliff Odyssey," however, are mostly just distracting from the ultra-smooth groove, and can feel like interruptions. In the end, assuming that almost everyone who picks up Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi is a fan of trip-hop, acid jazz, club/dance, or electronica, then it is essentially a record for everybody. Its only real fault is that occasionally, it edges on being a record for nobody.
AllMusic Review by Cammila Collar
feat: Pam Bricker