Tricky, a subversive phenomenon of the 90s has continued to plough on with his brand of Trip-hop during times of great change, the mid 90s seem an age ago now and Tricky feels like a name of Christmas past.
The Trip-hop sound that metamorphosised out of the bleak Bristol streets was a fresh alternative to the sickeningly rich portions of Brit-Pop so regularly rammed down the throats of British music listeners around the time of Tricky's impressive debut. Having already appeared on Massive Attack's Blue Lines album, Tricky was already a name that those on the scene were themselves familiar with. Maxinquaye was a success of sorts, hailed as NME's album of the year and reaching #3 in the charts at a time when you actually had to shift some units to be there. Critical acclaim was something that Tricky could take for granted until 2001's Blowback LP, and since then it's been a rocky ride through the noughties both critically and commercially.
Now Tricky follows up 2008's, the respected Knowle West Boy, with Mixed Race, an album produced in Paris, (his new home) and features (as has become the norm) a host of interesting collaborations.
Mixed Race predictably is a mixed bag, single Murder Weapon is a surf pop re working of an old Echo Minott track - somewhat uplifting with a vicious undercurrent. Whereas the atmospheric Ghetto Stars is a gloomy affair, almost theatrical at times as its slow grooves meet soaring strings. It's regressive moves such as this that can at times hold Mixed race back, Kingston Logic sounds a touch 90s also, but manages to work as it's mixed with a far more contemporary beat and production style.
Standards are heightened when Really Real arrives, featuring some sweet vocals, its eerie feedback sounds makes for an intriguing listen, it's just a shame it doesn't make the three minute mark. Every Day also provides Mixed Race with one of its bright spots, a short but sweet bluesy effort that even sees an appearance from the harmonica on one of the albums most acoustic based tracks.
At just over half an hour, Mixed Race is a bit of a tease, spraying us with an array of styles, blues, funk, hip hop, lounge and minimal all feature before fading out at least fifteen minutes early. Having said that, during that half an hour, there are enough striking moments to prove that Tricky is back on form, continuing where he left off with Knowle West Boy, safely on the tracks of good form.
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