Saturday, September 06, 2008

MICROPHONISCOPE: aimless lens on tricky, respect and collaboration

http://www.thestoolpigeon.co.uk/admin/wp-content/uploads/tricky.jpg

tricky :: pre-millenium tension :: makes me wanna die (weekend mix) feat. martina topley-bird
tricky :: nearly god :: black coffee feat. martina topley-bird
massive attack :: blue lines :: karma coma feat. tricky
tricky :: knowles west boy :: past mistake feat. lubna salame
tricky :: knowles west boy :: council estate (outlaw's VIP monster mix)
tricky :: blowback :: excess feat. alanis morissette & ambersunshower
tricky :: maxinquaye :: black steel feat. martina topley-bird
tricky :: vulnerable :: hollow feat. costanza francavilla

tricky can be such a dick. the interview he did with brooklyn vegan is pretty damn interesting, but i wonder what its like to read for someone who didn't find something to love about tricky in each of his incarnations. for awhile there, tricky was my favorite artist, jockeying for position with ani difranco and sleater-kinney maybe, but still a favorite.

obviously when he started up he was part of massive attack and a cadre was instantly formed by them and portishead, despite the differences between them. for the record, i love that "the bristol sound" is used like a euphymism for the dirty words that are "trip-hop." i've long been a proponent of th phrase "slick-hop" as encompassing both this sound and DJ-driven downtempo hip hop along with weirder offerings like bis, but hey, i'm just one man. but if you've been snatching music from here and seen that genre label, well, now you know. returning to the first sentence in this paragraph, i'm annoyed as usual at tricky whenever he drops scorn on artists that i enjoy. i mean really, downgrading M.I.A. to just "dance music" while telling us you wanted to record an album with the guitarist/producer from fucking suede? really? suede? i'm sorry, but in terms of influence, suede has contributed to britpop and M.I.A. is still riding the wave of can'tpinitdownyet that she's creating, so colour me uninterested in your opinion. (initial feelings aside, it appears the guy does have legitimate production chops, but i'll stand by my impressions for the sake of argument). and tricky doesn't listen to portishead? tricky, you sample them on council estate!

but i'm still stuck on tricky. i'd forgive him for no other reason than bringing martina topley-bird to my attention... the woman is one of the most evocative muses i've ever encountered. that's her spine-tingling voice on black coffee, black steel (yeah its obvs a cover) and makes me wanna die. i'll probably post something new on her soon, the woman deserves more attention than she's getting.

and the tricky story has always been an intriguing one ... a quick wiki quote for the early bit: "His father left the family before he was born and his mother, Maxine Quaye, committed suicide when he was four. He named his solo album after her - Maxinquaye - and once said that though he hardly knew her he feels like she's speaking through him with his words." after that, putting out dark album after dark album, there was talk of him having a mood disorder or an allergic reaction milk, any number of things, but the albums post-figuring out the allergy are still beautifully dark (the 2003 album vulnerable and since then).

sometimes i read tricky's "voice" and he really does sound more woken up than before, like this review/write-up of knowle west boy where he writes this: "There are lots of singers on this album. I don’t really consider myself a vocalist. I can’t carry a whole album with my voice. It’s just being realistic. I can’t sing. And I love working with female vocalists. A lot of my lyrics are from a female point of view. I wish I could sing like Janis Joplin or PJ Harvey. But I can’t. So I need - need - a female singer to help me." and one thing i've always found to be a hook in tricky's songs is whoever his muse is. after martina went her own way, tricky has used a bevy of vocalists to get his point across, and the words he channels through them can be boring or incendiary but rarely in between, while also conveying a more nuanced understanding of gender than you'll find on your average hip hop record.

2 comments:

  1. i read the brooklyn vegan article and tricky sounds like a very sad person, but in the angry sort of way. the sort who never smiles or laughs. whether this is rightfully so or not is not my place to decide, but sometimes you just want to give someone a hug.

    i liked council estate but did not love tricky kid.

    ReplyDelete
  2. oh yeah, i like massive attack, but have only been listening to them for about 4-5 years (am listening to Mezzanine right now) and had no idea they've been around that long.

    how come you can't hear people's accents when they sing??

    ReplyDelete

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