In the ideal world, a collection of mixed tracks on disc should resemble something a DJ would put together on air or at a party. It needs flow, it needs balance, and it needs variety. Having spent time doing radio, I can speak for the importance of the big picture when assembling material from diverse sources.
The Outernational Sound comes in the form of a twenty-track set representing nineteen artists. It's been officially dubbed a DJ set by Thievery Corporation twin heads Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, and it lives up to the standards such a set should meet. Says Hilton: "These tracks are simply some of our favorites over their last couple of years," and they do indeed hit the spot.
TC and its associated label, Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, have been busy putting together hypnotic records with relaxed grooves, electronica-generated textures, and an array of international influences. (That's the "outernational" part.) This collection ranges from the sing-song Latinized chorus of Gimmicks' "Ya Ma Le" (shakers and drums all around) to the easygoing club-dub echoes of Boozoo Bajou's "Under My Sensi" (fully tripped out), to the New Orleans funk of Breakestra's "Cramp Your Style" (a frustrated love cry) and the North Indian drone of the Alan Lorber Orchestra's "Within You Without You" (rising and falling sitar leading the way).
Some of the artists represented hereBig Boss Man, Beatfanatic, Breakestraappear in every Thievery Corporation DJ set, while others offer more novelty value. "The Richest Man In Babylon" (from the TC album of the same name, which met widespread acclaim) offers a dub manifesto of righteousness that's both magnetic and convincing. Here it's remixed right by G-Corp on the only track here that exceeds four minutes in length.
The bottom line with The Outernational Sound is that Hilton and Garza have a keen ear for the moving groove and the middle zone where international influences collide in satisfying ways. Turn it on and relax during a summer afternoon. There's no need to rush through life.