Thievery Corporation's Eric Hilton and Rob Garza have always treated the line between acoustic and electronic music as a drunken sailor might, unpredictably falling on one side or the other with equal frequency. By this measure, The Richest Man in Babylon is their soberest effort to date, striding confidently into jazz, soul, world beat, and other styles with a direct, reverential approach. The band's last record, Sounds from the Verve Hi-Fi, featured a set of classic jazz tunes unadorned with remixes or reinterpretation. But the songs on Babylon are originals, incorporating not just jazz but Afro-beat, Brazilian dance, Persian and Indian music, reggae, and psychedelia, all while making expert use of new and old collaborators like Sleepy Wonder, Lou Lou, and Shinehead. Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini makes an instant impression on the first track, "Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes," her voice freeing the song's melody and structure with just a few hypnotic bars. It's hard to call this an electronic record at all; even their dub-influenced tracks miss a certain studio sheen, as if Hilton and Garza simply waded into a sweltering Jamaican beach party and hit record. But while it misses the ambient, ethereal edge that made The Mirror Conspiracy a downtempo classic, Babylon satisfies with organic energy and tasteful eclecticism.
Modern Day Babylon is "first djent - groove - ambient Czech project". It was founded by Tomas Raclavsky in the end of 2010 and started as a one-man project. Though today it performs as an instrumental trio who is past its succesful debut and is receiving unusual praises by critics. Still in the time of preparations of the debut album, the project has been completed by conservatory graduates Vojtech Seminsky (drums) and Marek Mrvik (bass) joining MDB. This three-member group has been stirring up the Czech progressive metal scene ever since. Some of the proofs are the Newcomer of the Year 2011 award and the Minialbum of the Year 2011 award, given by „Britva Awards“, a chart composed by some of the biggest names of Czech music media.
As on Caetano Veloso's album from the same year, Gilberto Gil does not sound happy away from his homeland. Recorded in London, the eight songs on his final self-titled album are mostly blues and introspective, downbeat pop songs. Steve Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home" is an inspired choice, delivered with a crushing sentimentality rarely found in other versions. Gil also reprises "Volks, Volkswagen Blues" from his 1969 LP. The effect isn't quite as doom-laden as Veloso's work, but Gil is definitely homesick, as the touching "Nêga (Photograph Blues)" shows. [This CD reisssue includes three bonus tracks: a live version of "Can't Find My Way Home" along with "Up from the Skies" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."]
Calvin Massey (1928-1972) is virtually unknown with the exception of both highly knowledgeable jazz scholars and a small coterie of illustrious musicians who remain alive and were immensely indebted to Massey s musical influence and mentorship. Massey was a father figure and close friend to many of the greatest jazz musicians of the post-World War era until his early death in 1972. Massey was a trumpeter, but was most noted as a composer of magisterial works, of which his epic opus was The Black Liberation Movement Suite, an extended work of nine movements. Until now, the work had never been recorded in its entirety. Cal Massey ranked among the greatest jazz composers of the 20th century, included with Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Sun Ra.