The Mirror Conspiracy is the second album proper by Eric Garza and Rob Hilton, better known as Thievery Corporation. It was released on 21 August, 2000, and follows their debut, Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi and an incidental album of remixes, Abductions and Reconstructions.

Heavily downbeat, the Mirror Conspiracy is lost in the cracks somewhere between trip-hop, dub and world music. It marks a progression from their debut in that, where that album was heavily ganja-ed up and dubbed out, this is much more transnational in flavour. Critics could argue that, this time round, Hilton and Garza have simply repackaged the music of several countries and added some knob-twiddling production. To be sure, Thievery Corporation have never been abashed by the way their music draws heavily on outside influences (their name pretty much gives away what they're up to), but to denigrate the Mirror Conspiracy so is to do it an injustice.

It is a sophisticated, chilled out masterpiece and a CD for almost any occasion. Custom made to be listened to whilst under the influence, it more than stands up while completely sober. The subtle melodies and rich bass create a lush cinematic mood and, although a similar set of cues are in many of the tracks, their range of guesting vocalists keeps the album as a whole suitably supple.



Treasures kicks off the album by wrapping you up in warm, surrounding bass. The vocal track is one of gentle Rastafarian mumblings, harking back to Thievery Corporation's first album. Separate layers of drums interleave, and the overall feel is one of quite minimal drum and bass.

Indra - A sitar introduction leads into another downbeat bass drum pattern driven by sliding string progressions. Indra alternates between periods of western instrumentation and eastern singing, a female singer incanting an ascending raga over tabla drumming. The two parts imperceptibly merge towards the end of the track, keeping the percussion and washing the strings back over it.

Lebanese Blonde is a wonderful eastern tinted track, although it has more of a westernised middle eastern flavour than Indra's subcontinent stylings. Pam Bricker provides smoky vocals which melt into soft brass. The title refers to what one must assume is Garza and Hilton's psychoactive of choice, but the international feeling of the song equally suggests a Mediterranean beauty glimpsed at an open market. Lyrically, the former seems more probable, with Bricker's soothing delivery breathing out lines like "Too low to find my way / Too high to wonder why."

The globe trotting musical sampling next flies Air Batucada to South America, with distinct Latin percussion and bass. However, Ms Bricker's wafting vocals on this track are limited to a few Da Da Dee Da Da Dum's. It all seems like a Brazilian warm-up for the next track.

So Com Voce again brings in a Latin tinge. This is laid-back bossa nova par excellence. The guest singer is Bebel Gilberto, daughter of Joao and Astrud. She sings a track on this album in return for Thievery's production of one of hers on her superlative Tanta Tempo album. Here, an unimposing melody is mixed with late-night saxophone and tied together with a bossa beat. What this track has (and what was missing from Air Batucada) is an outstanding vocal. Portuguese sweet nothings are sung in Gilberto's trademark seductive, breathy style and really give the track a touch of class.

Shadows of Ourselves - This was the first single from the album. Not really more poppy than any other track, it simply serves as one of the best examples of Thievery Corporation music. Head nodding bass underlines the dreamily sung French lyrics, this time performed by a chanteuse credited only as 'Lou Lou'. Glockenspiel chime at the high end, trombones sound in the mid-range and the rhythm section keeps the tempo slightly higher than the horizontal sound of much of the rest of the record. Evoking mid-summer cocktails and crisp cosmopolitan bars, this is undoubtedly the highlight of the album.

Tomorrow spills over into a true drum and bass rhythm on a patchwork of ambient dub. This track also features a briefly sampled snatch of Ella Fitzgerald's vocals, in an appositely reclining mood rather than full on blues mama mode.



Tracklisting:

  1. Treasures - 2.24
  2. Le Monde - 3.11
  3. Indra - 5.22
  4. Lebanese Blonde - 4.48
  5. Focus on Sight - 3.47
  6. Air Batucada - 4.46
  7. So Com Voce - 2.47
  8. Samba Tranquille - 3.08
  9. Shadows of Ourselves - 3.37
  10. The Hong Kong Triad - 3.01
  11. Illumination - 4.38
  12. The Mirror Conspiracy - 3.45
  13. Tomorrow - 3.43

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