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Thievery Corporation

When they met in the mid-1990s, Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton and Rob Garza instantly bonded over their shared passion for bossa nova. Dedicating their 1996 debut 'Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi' to bossa nova pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim, the Washington, D.C.-based duo have spent nearly two decades creating boundary-warping, complexly crafted electronic music partly inspired by bossa nova’s intricate rhythms and lush textures. Now, with their seventh studio album 'Saudade,' Thievery Corporation present their first release devoted entirely to the Brazilian-born genre that first connected them. “We always try to progress into something different and stretch our musical chops, and taking a whole album to dive into this one sound seemed like a really great way to do that,” says Hilton. Adds Garza: “It’s a bit of a departure for us, but at the same time these are our roots, this is what brought us together. It’s us coming full circle from electronic music back to something organic before we move on to our next chapter.”

Over the years, Thievery Corporation have given nods to their bossa-nova influence on individual album tracks, slipping those quietly enchanting songs into recordings that reveal the duo’s careful studying of everything from Jamaican dub reggae to punk to vintage film soundtracks to psychedelic space rock. After coming up with sketches for several bossa-nova-style numbers while recording their last studio album (2011’s Culture of Fear), Garza and Hilton considered releasing an EP showcasing a handful of Brazilian-inspired songs. “The more we worked on those songs, the more we got into the vibe of that vintage, organic sound,” recalls Hilton. “Making an album fully dedicated to that sound felt like a good idea, especially at a time when the electronic dance music world is so saturated and there’s not much of a focus on musicianship.” Rather than feeling hemmed in by the unfamiliar approach of creating music solely in one style, Thievery Corporation found a great deal of freedom in writing and recording the songs that make up 'Saudade.'

Now on 'Saudade,' Thievery Corporation are once again changing direction, trading the fiery energy of their last two albums for a wistful mood and summery spirit—a shift that both members found highly refreshing. “Even though we’re very socially conscious, it’s nice to take a break from the political theme and just concentrate creating some beautiful songs in the same vein as all these old records that we love,” says Garza. And as one ofthe most influential and respected names on the electronic/dance music scene, Thievery Corporation also discovered their own breed of rebellion and innovation in committing themselves to a time-worn genre on 'Saudade.'“We’re still chopping up beats, but this time we’re making them sound warm and vintage—which is not at all what’s happening in electronic music right,” says Hilton. “What we’re doing here is pretty traditional and timeless-sounding, and in that it’s completely contrarian.”


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