Thievery Corporation

Having Thievery Corporation remix Sarah McLachlan is like dressing a piece of white bread with water. And if that doesn't sound bland enough, imagine the D.C. down-tempo duo taking on Norah Jones. Both of these somnambulist scenarios play out on Versions, Thievery Corporation's second retrospective remix album, and the best thing that can be said for them is that they're virtually the only instances in which a meeting of the minds is evident. Otherwise, Versions finds the twosome intent on dominating its source material, using mere strands of it to weave into its patented mush (far be it from one of the drum sounds or bass lines to stand out or, you know, vary from track to track). But then, domination has always been the point: The world is Thievery Corporation's playground, for strains of Indian music, trip-hop, bossa nova, and especially dub are all over the group's work. The disc spans eight years of music-making and has the homogeneity of an album recorded in a day. The oldest track here is also the best — 1998's "In Love" from Ben Folds's Fear of Pop project; it boasts a slow and steady bump that recalls relaxed early house from the likes of Electribe 101 or Frankie Knuckles. It's a reference point that's actually worthwhile, because it isn't totally obvious.

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Rich Juzwiak