Tricky's 3rd album from 1998 saw him retain his unique production style, but removed a lot of the lushness and melody that were apparent on the first two albums, especially on Maxinquaye. This upset a few people, and a lot of critics complained that it was too dark, uncommercial etc. Whilst this isn't quite the joy to listen to that the first albums are, it's still brilliant, just a bit more intense - the miasma of wobbly guitars, sax parps and assorted weird samples that throb along under the beats of 'Singin' The Blues' is a perfect example. This is definitely music of the bong - Tricky's smoke addled, rasping vocals just about intelligible; layers of relentless, weird-noir loops; loping beats. There is a tangible sense of both claustrophobia, and paranoia - Martina Topley-Bird's vocal contributions sound vaguely distressed and strung out. All that may sound slightly negative, but each song has a hypnotic and enthralling wall of sound effect, almost alchemically conjured out of the sounds and samples. Strange, offbeat rhythms and patterns work their way into solid grooves by way of repetition. 'Carriage For Two' has an amazing backing track that, except for a tolling bell and some weird guitar, almost defies analysis - it's almost like an organic being pulsating in a dark room. Last track 'Record Companies' is a glorious psychedelic swamp beast.
I thought Tricky has lost the plot with 'BlowBack', which I pretty much hated instantly, but 'Knowle West Boy' was a return to form, with some really excellent stuff on it, and is well worth checking out. Also, if you've never heard 'Maxinquaye', do yourself a favour and buy a copy.
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