Eric Hilton unveils instrumental gem ‘Midnight Milan’ from his new album “Sound Vagabond”

Co-founder of the influential group Thievery Corporation, Eric Hilton unveils instrumental gem ‘Midnight Milan’, the first single taken from his forthcoming album Sound Vagabond, a 14-track sonic travelogue created by one of the fathers of downtempo electronic music.

As co-founder of the influential group Thievery Corporation, Hilton has spent decades merging diverse global genres into a singular music vision. Sound Vagabond is perhaps the ultimate iteration of this ethos, each track an audio picture postcard of a place real or imagined. “Some memories of the places I’ve been are very clear; others are distant, nostalgic echos,” says Hilton.This record started modestly, with some basic ideas, but after writing the first 8 tracks I knew I had a travelogue.

Hilton, who has used sampling in his music since the early days of Thievery Corporation, didn’t go digging into crates to create crunchy 12-bit vinyl samples for this record, but instead turned to public domain sample libraries. “This record is like a sound collage, with 60% samples and 40% live instruments. Sampling off old vinyl records is great, but there are obvious licensing and clearance headaches. Public sample libraries are a fantastic resource; you dig through a lots of hilarious garbage, but I’m astounded by the nuggets you can find. You can find specific instruments in any given key, and then the challenge is chopping them up, recontextualizing and integrating them with the track you’re making.” The end result is music where the samples don’t call attention to themselves or distract from the carefully curated mood in any way.

A perfect way to ease into 2024, “Midnight Milan” brings to mind a late night assignation, breathy promises and a doomed kiss.


On February 23rd, Eric Hilton brings you his new album Sound Vagabond, a 14-track sonic travelogue by one of the fathers of downtempo electronic music.

Hilton’s hybridization of music influences and experiences is nowhere more evident than on the record’s title track. “Sound Vagabond” locks into a vintage trip hop groove, while flutes and Northern African flavors drift in and out. It’s difficult to identify a specific geographic or ethnological fingerprint of these sounds (and the others on the album), because everything Hilton assimilates goes through his “filter” and comes out as his own thing.

The destinations on this sonic travelogue are diverse – “Cerro Allegre” was inspired by Hilton’s visit to Valparaíso Chile, a city he likens to a Latin San Francisco with stunning vistas. “The Violet Hour” is a breathy, Stan Getz meets space-age bachelor pad jaunt that recalls a distinctive Chicago cocktail bar. “Midnight Milan” brings to mind a late night assignation, breathy promises and a doomed kiss. “Mumbai Hustle” is reconstituted Bollywood by way of Detroit – tough but fun, like a club where you need to know the secret password to get in. “Petra” breathes haunted echoes of Jordan through the speakers, while “Endless Affair” and “Poppy Fields” have 1960’s cinematic overtones.

Eric Hilton – Sound Vagabond

1. Endless Affair
2. Glass Visage
3. Nico
4. Closer
5. Midnight Milan
6. The Violet Hour
7. Cerro Alegre
8. The Grand Intro
9. Sound Vagabond
10. Petra
11. Mumbai Hustle
12. Poppy Fields
13. The Mirror Inside
14. Lumi

The dynamic contrasts in Hilton’s music make for a rewarding listen; muscular rhythmic grooves propel elegantly crafted sonic landscapes. And while every journey enriches the traveler, time spent on unfamiliar ground often brings self-reflection. The artist explores these themes on two of the record’s strongest tracks: “The Mirror Inside” and “The Grand Intro”. “Yeah, those two songs are more self-focused than the rest of the album,” says the producer. “The Mirror Inside” is about the feeling of creating a different vibrational experience, turning things back on yourself, which is very much where I am when making a record by myself. “The Grand Intro” is tongue in cheek – it’s the kind of song I’d like to be playing when I enter a room, it’s got swagger and élan, but it’s also laid back.”

The last track on the record, “Lumi”, feels like the beginning of a long journey home, and is a perfect way to close out the album. Get your musical passport stamped – join Eric Hilton on a trip around his sonic world on Sound Vagabond, out March XX on ESL Records.

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