Tricky: Maxinquaye Album Review | Fork

In assimilating these expansive tastes, Tricky was surely influenced by his upbringing in Bristol, the culturally adventurous city in the west of England that helped spawn Massive Attack, Portishead, Flying Saucer Attack, Rip Rig + Panic, Smith & Mighty, John Parish, Roni Size and Krust. Tricky can claim to have little time to talk about a Bristol scene (and very little time for Portishead) but it seems remarkable that this free musical spirit grew up in a city where the Wild Bunch mixed punk with R&B and Massive Attack added reggae, soul and downtempo hip-hop to their soundsystem stew.

Topley-Bird’s vocals also played an important, albeit perhaps subconscious, role in softening the Maxinquaye pill. Tricky wanted to feature a female voice as “my mother speaking through me”, and many lyrics were written from a female perspective, adding a foreboding sense of gender fluidity to the record. Where Tricky’s voice is rough and phlegmatic, with all the silent menace of the powerful, Topley-Bird’s is a cobwebby whisper, somehow both lush and fragile, like the most end.

Don’t confuse this delicacy with weakness, however. On songs like “Brand New You’re Retro” or “Black Steel,” Topley-Bird has incredible swagger, while on “Abbaon Fat Tracks” she’s alarmingly predatory. Tricky used different singers on two Maxinquaye songs—Alison Goldfrapp on “Pumpkin” and Ragga on “You Don’t”—and, in my opinion, they feel a little off, like representatives of a parallel universe where Tricky and Topley-Bird never met .

Topley-Bird also contributed the lion’s share of vocal melody to Maxinquaye, spinning improvised tunes like velvet bunnies from a hat. Rather than suggesting Topley-Bird listen to her tracks ahead of time and think about what she’d sing, Tricky would apparently give her teen movie a set of lyrics and send her into the kitchen to improvise a take. It was, according to Topley-Bird, “completely instinctive.” “There was no time to find an alter ego,” she said The Guardian. Yet the melodies she’s invented are otherworldly and sublime, from the revolt of the hair on the back of her neck on “Strugglin'” to the selfless disgust she poses on “Abbaon Fat Tracks.”

These different themes — happy accidents and broad tastes, laid-back melodic power and genre ambivalence — collided on “Black Steel,” a guitar-driven half-coverage of Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” that rattled the UK charts. . The track began with a scratchy recorded drum loop of “Rukkumani Rukkumani,” from the film by Indian composer AR Rahman. Roja soundtrack, which Tricky had received from his former girlfriend’s mother and to which someone – possibly Saunders – added a backwards guitar riff. When it came time for Topley-Bird to record her vocals, Tricky didn’t bother to write them all out, so Topley-Bird ended up using only the first verse of the song, on which she improvised one of his most powerful melodies, twisting and dipping like a bird escaping from its cage. The FTV techno-rock actor, whom Tricky had met at a gig, added rumbling guitar and Sex Pistols-style drums to create a wildly unlikely – yet utterly appropriate – Bollywood/rock/techno version. /hip-hop from the Public Enemy classic.

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