Trackpacking: Thievery Corporation

by Keith Savage · 4 comments

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Trackpacking is a recurring series highlighting musicians that inspire me to travel.

Certain songs can send you cartwheeling through time and space to the inception of a memory. It’s the reason why bars erupt with the shrill cries of female patrons when Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer begins. Or why aging wedding guests still feel the need to do the Humpty dance. I mean, I’m assuming there was a moment in that person’s life when they thought, “Yes! I’m a dancing machine!” when Shock G of Digital Underground was rapping…but please, spare the children. You don’t need me to tell you this – you’re probably thinking of a couple musicians/songs that have this effect on you.

I can think of plenty, and I’ll be sharing the travel-related examples with you in this series.

I can’t even count the number of hours my wife and I have spent trip planning with Thievery Corporation spinning on the iPod. Thievery Corporation are the DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, hailing from Washington, D.C. There’s something special about the music’s diverse blend of dub, lounge, Middle Eastern, African tribal, reggae, and acid jazz. Having trouble figuring out what that sounds like? Put this on while you read.

Hilton and Garza deftly weave together the various styles into songs that are greater than the sum of their parts. With lyrics often sung in French, Portuguese, and Persian, perhaps it’s the “physicality” and origin of their musical influences that makes it the perfect travel starter and companion. Their’s is a modern take on “world music,” and I liken it to watching a round-the-worlders slideshow. The sound on their albums is rich and organic, and displays a connoisseur’s appetite for foreign and underground music. All of Thievery Corporation’s albums pack a cast of interesting and often famous (in their own right) musicians to augment the duo’s sound; Hilton and Garza generally stick to the wheels of steel, bass, and programming.

Pack these Tracks:

Thievery Corporation’s songs range from slow burners to party starters. Check out this sampler for a taste.

  • Indra, from The Mirror Conspiracy. A driving beat supports loungey pads as Indian-inflected instruments and delayed vocals ride the drums.
  • So Com Voce, from The Mirror Conspiracy. Chill-out to this smooth track, complete with reverbed horns and Bebel Gilberto.
  • Heaven’s Gonna Burn Your Eyes, from The Richest Man in Babylon. Like a moon flower unfurling its petals, this song slowly builds on Emiliana Torrini’s delicate vocals.
  • Liberation Front, from The Richest Man in Babylon. Bouncy and a little brash, this track fits well in any mix destined to begin the night.
  • Satyam Shivam Sundaram, from The Cosmic Game. This acid-inflected trip-out from the heart of India will leave your head spinning.
  • Vampires, from Radio Retaliation. Upbeat with a nice bass groove, Femi Kuti drops some political knowledge.

Create a Moment

  • Crack a bottle of wine, the spines of your guidebooks, and your laptop. Press play.
  • Insert ear buds during the flight en route to your destination and (quietly) jam out. At least until the TSA forbids this, too.
  • Hook up the iPod speakers in your hostel/hotel/B&B room to prepare for an excellent night on the town.

Have some music that moves you? Share it in the comments!

Original photo by andymangold via Flickr under Creative Commons

AdamNo Gravatar February 17, 2010 at 11:58 PM

Ahh!! I love Thievery Corp! I won free tickets to see them in Boston last November. They put on an amazing performance.

Federico Aubele is another band in the same vein as Thievery Corp. I’m a big fan of them, too.
.-= Adam´s last blog ..Wombat Wednesday: Le Monde =-.


KeithNo Gravatar February 18, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Hey Adam! I love Federico Aubele – Thievery Corporation actually executive produces a lot of his music and he’s on their label. I have yet to see Thievery in concert, though I have heard it’s a great show.


Nomadic ChickNo Gravatar February 16, 2010 at 11:12 PM

My man, you’re speaking to the right gal. Music is essential to my life! Great Theivery song choices as well. If you get a chance, I think you’d love 1 Giant Leap. In a similar vein, it’s about 2 DJ’s going around the world to record international musicians and mixing it together into 1 album. Check it out on itunes if you can.
.-= Nomadic Chick´s last blog ..15 Things I’m Looking Forward to When I Quit My Job & Travel =-.


KeithNo Gravatar February 17, 2010 at 10:59 PM

Wow, that sounds really cool. I’ll be sure to check them out. Thanks for the rec!


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