The 90’s trip-hop scene is a strange place to revisit. A lot of people like to fetishize the 90’s; it’s culture, fashion, and especially music. The truth is that the 90’s put out some of the worst music ever made and people wore JNCO’s. However, like every decade, it was still full of gems. The Trip-Hop scene had a few of these gems: Portishead, Massive Attack, and the Sneaker Pimps, to name a few. These groups at their best still sound new, their songs and albums, destined to be rediscovered by every generation, to come. Tricky, originally Tricky Kid, with the group Massive attack, and later Tricky, in his solo career, is one of those acts. In the mid nineties Tricky put out three consecutive near perfect albums: Maxinquaye, Nearly God, and Pre-Millennium Tension. It’s almost been twenty years since its release and Pre-Millennium Tension, still holds true as one of the best Trip-Hop albums to come out of the genre.
There really may not be a better album to welcome winter, float into the non-existence of depression, and get you through to spring. Tricky managed to manipulate sounds in a way as to leave his audience felling lost yet calm. His sounds are avant-garde, they feel new, bizarre, and just when you think it’s all a little too much, he drops a song like, “Makes Me Wanna Die,” and everything, your life, relationships, struggles, all begin to make sense.
“Makes me wanna die,” is a glimpse into Tricky’s own personal life. Sung with haunting beauty by, Martina Topley-Bird. The song itself was written about Tricky’s relationship with the Tracks singer, his muse, and love, Martina Topley-Bird. Imagine singing a song about your ex, for your ex? The song is packed with emotion, something that could only come from something so real. Martina’s beautiful voice carries over the track while Tricky grumbles behind everything she sings. At its close, seemingly like their relationship, the song ends abruptly.
I know a twenty year old, avant-garde album is a big ask for someone unfamiliar with an artist to get in to but this one deserves a listen. It’s a very healthy thing to travel back in time and listen to a forgotten era of music. If nothing else, winter is coming, it’s time to buckle down, find yourself something new, even if it’s twenty years old, and add some eeriness to the dreariness of winter. You soon may find yourself deep in the catalog of the entire Bristol underground scene.
Review by Timothy White. Follow him on Twitter @TipToTheHip.