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Tricky


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Alternative, trip hop, acid jazz, drums 'n' bass, downbeat (whatever you call it)

Status:

Most recent release, False Idols (2013)

See also:

Wikipedia's entry for Tricky

The Ectophiles' Guide entry for Massive Attack, a project Tricky has been part of

Comparisons:

A much, much darker, even grittier Portishead

Covers/own material:

Own, sometimes co-written, occasional covers

General comments:

Maxinquaye is really just about the purest representative of the genre that is referred to as "trip-hop." Truly a leap forward in pop music. Less reliant on jazz or hip hop than GURU, yet somehow more of both; sharper-of-tooth and darker-of-eye than Portishead. The beats and textures continue to surprise listen after listen.
     The whole trip hop movement is a marriage of jazz and hip hop: the sounds and improv philosophy of jazz overlaid with the sampling technology and beats of hip hop. Portishead is probably the most ectopian but Tricky (& his Nearly God & StarvingSouls incarnations) and Massive Attack are the best of the bunch. (lissener@wwa.com)

I wouldn't call Tricky's music brooding or introspective. And if Tricky is a typical example of Trip Hop, then I should listen to some more of that, because I love his cover of "Black Steel" (on Maxinquaye). (jwermont@sonic.net)

I think Tricky gets his respect because he was one of the originators of "trip-hop" (He, Portishead and Massive Attack are its reigning monarchs, bestriding thrones in some abandoned factory in Bristol), and then had the good sense to disown himself from the whole movement and proceeded to make deliberately hard-to-like records to model himself as a "serious artist", except that instead of being pretentious, he's just rude. Which is just the sort of things the British press like. The American music intelligentsia like him because he's like a hip-hop artist who doesn't care about money, elaborate star tie-ins or shooting people, is self-obsessed in a suicidal way rather than the usual macho way, and makes records which they don't understand. Which they can at least pretend to like.
     Personally, I believe that his first album at least (Maxinquaye) pushed certain boundaries, mainly expanding the Bristol sound from minimalist backdrops overlaid with samples into a fully textured, layered, colourful, genre-crossing type of music. (On almost no other album would you find "Ponderosa" and "Black Steel" next to each other.)
     Meanwhile, nearly everything else he's done since (excepting Poems, Christiansands and Broken Homes and the Nearly God project) has bored me, and he committed a major musical crime when he released "Ghetto Youth", one of the worst songs ever written and surely the song they play in hell.
     Maxinquaye is an amazingly original masterpiece in my opinion. However, I find his subsequent releases too deliberately unpleasant for my liking. (afinney@ozonline.com.au)

Comments about live performance:

Actually, it was seeing Tricky with Martine live shortly after Maxinquaye came out that first got me interested in them/him. I loved the interaction between Martine's gorgeous voice and Tricky's rough gravelly talk, and the way he puts songs together—it came into focus well live. (1995, Neile)

I found him interesting at best and, I liked the voice of the female lead he had. I guess my question is what does he do that garners so much respect in the industry?? I found everything he did forgettable and he was lifeless on stage. That might have been because he kept on lighting what I thought were joints during his performance. I don't think that was his problem though. (c. 1995?, FAMarcus@aol.com)

Recommended first album:

Maxinquaye

Recordings include:

  • Maxinquaye (1995)
  • Nearly God (1996)
  • Pre-Millennium Tension (1996)
  • Angels with Dirty Faces (1998)
  • Juxtapose (1999)
  • BlowBack (2001)
  • Vulnerable (2003)
  • Back to Mine (compilation, 2003)
  • Knowle West Boy (2008)
  • Mixed Race (2010)
  • False Idols (2013)

Maxinquaye

Release info:

1995—Island Records—314-24 089-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of trip hops, drums 'n' bass, downbeat, whatever you want to call it; others probably won't like it

Group members:

Tricky—vocals
Martine—vocals

Guest artists:

Alison Goldfrapp—vocals on 1 track
Ragga—vocals on 1 track
Pete Briquette—bass guitar on 1 track
Mark Saunders—keyboards on 1 track
FTV—guitar, drums on 1 track
Tony Wrafter—flute on 1 track
James Stevenson—guitar on 1 track

Produced by:

Tricky and Mark Saunders; Tricky; Tricky and Kevin Petrie; Tricky and Howie B

Comments:

Well, here's something I never thought I'd like but I do, I do! Special points for making me like something some remotely rap-ish vocals. Points for letting Martine's voice carry the vocal weight. I love their version of "Black Steel" and like the rest of the album but don't find it demanding lots of time on my disc player. (Neile)

it isn't all that great, but some of it rocks! (iflin@speakeasy.net)

I bought because I loved the song "Black Steel". However, the rest of the album has such strong r&b influence that it turned me off. I didn't really hear much trancy, textured, layered music on most of the album. I'm more interested in the "trip" side of things than the "hop" side, if that makes sense. :)
     I'm talking about the more languid stuff on Maxinquaye, such as the song, "Hell is Around the Corner" which comes right after "Black Steel". It's not that I hate that music (I certainly don't have a huge aversion to it), but it's not the kind of thing I think of when someone talks about "trippy music," even though that's evidently what several people here did mean by that phrase.
     With the exception of a few cuts, the songs on Maxinquaye are fairly sparse by comparison. I *don't* hate the album—in fact occasionally, I get in just the right mood for it. But I wouldn't go out of my way to find other music that is similar to that (unless we're talking about "Black Steel"). (jwermont@sonic.net)


Nearly God

Recorded as by Nearly God

Release info:

1996—Island

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Tricky fans

Group members:

Tricky ("Nearly God")—vocals

Guest artists:

Björk—vocals
FX—sampling
Neneh Cherry—vocals
Cath Coffey—vocals
Terry Hall—vocals
Alison Moyet—vocals
Martina Topley-Bird—vocals
Dedi Madden—backing vocals

Produced by:

Pete Briquette, Mark Saunders, and Tricky

Comments:

"Nearly God" is what Tricky's answering to nowadays.
     The Artist Previously Known as Tricky seems, so far, to be the only one who's capable of more than a one-stop ride on the bandwagon we call TripHop. Makes sense, I suppose, seeing as how he's the driver.
     Anyway.
     "Poems" is really beautiful. It's built on those cycled little samples of his that always surprise but always work—Tricky can pull a groove out of anything. In addition to Tricky's familiar defeated growl and Martina's singsongy decadence, there's a third voice in "Poems". Terry Hall, cowriter of this song, has an odd little voice. It doesn't seem very strong, but it has a subtly beautiful tone, a sad quality that seems drawn from the melancholy acoustic (I think steel) guitar that, though very quiet, stands out starkly against the dark, rich textures of "Poems". (lissener@wwa.com)

Pre-Millennium Tension

Release info:

1996—Island

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Tricky—harmonica, vocals

Guest artists:

Pat McManus—piano, violin
John Tonks—drums
Rock Smith—vocals, backing vocals
Patrice Chevalier—guitar

Produced by:

Tricky

Comments:

Pre-Millennium Tension is a bit dour but does feature the lovely "Makes me Wanna Die". (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-03-28 00:14:06.
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