Thursday, February 15, 2007

don't push me cos i'm close to the edge...

Tricky - Pre-Millenium Tension (1996)
I don't have to play this album anymore. I know every seconds, every word. It so deeply written into my memory. The best album I have ever heard.

As many others I noticed Tricky on the first Massive Attack album "Blue Lines". He appeared on three tracks "Blue Lines", "Five Man Army" and "Daydreaming". I loved "Five Man Army" so when he started with "I take a small step now it's a giant stride People say I'm loud why should I hide..." it was kind of great moment.He was back on the second Massive Attack album "Protection" and again.. "Karmacoma", is great urban track with his brilliant lyrics: "Don't want to be on top of your listPhenomenally and properly kissedWe overcome in sixty secondsWith the strength we have to togetherBut for now, emotional ties they stay severedWhen there's trust there'll be treatsAnd when we funk we'll hear beats"
So when I noticed that he realeased an album (I didn't know that he already have released debut Maxinquaye and Nearly God album)I just expected some more Massive Attack like stuff and I bought it. The MA's "Protection" was then the essential album of triphop, it has all the elements of the style, hip hop, dub, electronica&samples etc. I thought that it was dark stuff(however Mad Professor put the dirt on "No Protection"). So what I expected from "Pre Millenium Tension" was another portion of this ingredients. Remain undelivered.

Pre-Millenium Tension is not a triphop album. It's very hard to categorize it. Tricky's roots are in hip hop, but his ability to absorb so many different infuences allowed him to create an album with sound which I haven't heard before. He mixed up elements which were seemingly in absolute antinomy. He put together tons of (mostly) unrecognizable samples, live musicians, dissonance and sound anarchy with his Rakim-based lyrical talent which was, most importantly, brilliantly used with his asthmatic rap and very flexible voice of Martina Topley-Bird.

PMT is not easily accesible album. I was tempted to return it to the store after first listening. PMT definitely doesn't work as a background music (if you are paranoid on crack, then it works). Listener must concentrate on the stream of sonic invasions, which makes the album ostensibly melody-less. But once you are focused, able to analyze all layers, everything is clear.

Tricky's main theme was fear. Fear in many different forms. Fear and paranoia. The first track on PMT is called "Vent" after ventolin inhaler and contains both of it. Music is based on nervous two-tone sample and backwards played guitar sounds with some percussive noises which are supporting the intention to create "under pressure" enviroment. It's about a fear of death, but not necessarily caused by asthma.It's about a fear of trusting to the others. Maybe the ventolin is also a woman he can't live/breathe without.

She's the one Makes me feel these ways
He's the one Needs sun rays
Can't stand to feel Hate to feel Gone insane, high jack a plane
Don't push me 'cause I'm close To the edge*1
Trying hard not to lose my head Can't hardly breathe
I've been and seen She hides my Ventolin
Can't hardly breathe Can't hardly breathe Can't hardly breathe
(I'm the one), I'm the one
(Who hides his medicine), Who hides his medicine
(Watch him stop breathe), Watch him stop breathe
(Watch him leave), Watch him leave
(I right the wrongs and take his song), I right the wrongs and take his song
(And we'll all live happy ever after), And we'll all live happy ever after
(Can't hardly breathe), Can't hardly breathe Can't hardly breathe Can't hardly breathe
Can't hardly breathe And we all sing together Can't hardly breathe

Second track "Christiansands" was released as a first single from PMT. This absolute anti-hit is kind of anthem for me. Love every second of it, its decadent mood is brutally dominant. Bass deeply under the tune, sample from Doug E Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew - La Di Da Di, reggae drums and lines like: "I change my face And if you think I'm fake up Wait around till I take off my make-up". The contrast between Tricky's and Martina's voices is most noticable right here. It's a duet, and it's almost a miracle how brutal it sounds when they are together in line :"Wrote her a letter Ask me questions Baby steps in sections And we will take it slow I really don't know When you talk You make me cringe Silver means the messenger I let her go don't question her"
Also the wordplay of "I met a Christian in Christiansands And a devil in Helsinki" is damn good.

There is another face of Tricky (and Martina): violent and aggressive. Both another tracks on album "Tricky Kid" and cover version of Chill Rob G. - "Bad Dreams" are dealing with it. In "Tricky Kid" Tricky attacks media, which took interest on him because of his fucked up realationships and fighting with celebrity status.

wiki says: "He has also been concerned with racial stereotyping of the media. In the documentary Naked & Famous he explains how photographers want him to frown angrily in photos, because that's how black artists are marketed. He points to a recent cover of The Big Issue, where he has a more ambiguous, confused look on his face, as being more how he feels. In the song "Tricky Kid" from Pre-Millennium Tension, he writes "As long as you're humble/Let you be the king of jungle", indicating that all black music is still judged as music from "the African jungle" and that its black fans are "savages."

"Makes Me Wanna Die" is probably Tricky's biggest hit. It's a statement of bittersweetness. Catharsis in the middle of the road. Heavy hiphop beat and guitar, Martina's "sexual healing" voice.

If I'd be thinking about this record as a LP and split it for two sides, then "Makes Me Wanna Die" is the last song on side A. Side which is easier accesible. Fictional side B is much more dirty. Sex, money, ghetto and gangs (Ghetto Youth), guns. more violence. Tricky is choosing the ways how unfold his mind with bravura. Hip hop artist's.. rappers are rarely associated with sonic dissonance, chaos, distortion. They are in closed community and their roots and infuences are the same for many many years. The result is that whole hip hop scene is recycling itself because of the lack of infuences coming from outside. What was Kanye West speaking about, when he said that he loves that whole "Phil Collins drums sound" in the interview about Arctic Monkeys ? But Tricky, and it's maybe because he is british, was always above the music styles, sampling whatever he liked, using different musicians etc. His attitude was more artistic than others rappers. And PMT is masterpiece of that attitude.

Tricky nowadays is leading into oblivion. He tried to re-launch himself as americanlike mainstream artist, after he released his two last albums, which are both pure rubbish. He's got label Brown Punk, directed a film, appereared in some crap tv shows. Tricky, the magical phenomenon.. The Tricky Kid.. is gone.

Martina Topley Bird released an album in 2003 "Quixotic". Strangely it's much more better than Tricky's last solo albums. Quixotic won the Mercury prize.

*1Don't push me, cause I'm close to the edge / Hijack a plane is a quote from Grandmaster Flash-The Message

pass in comments


Blogger chicken one said...


Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger bp1806 said...

What a disc!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007 5:00:00 PM  
Blogger Hal said...

You're very kind to spend your time putting this together. I just picked up Music for 18 Musicians and Dntel - many many thanks.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 8:02:00 PM  
Blogger chicken one said...

to bp1806: yeaaaaaaaah :)
to hal: yep. sometimes it is little bit time consuming:) - but the pleasure of promoting GOOD music is worthy.

Friday, February 16, 2007 4:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great site, v.impressed by your comments on each post. Most just cut and paste from allmusic or amazon. v.informative and I like the personal touch!

Friday, February 16, 2007 6:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Chicken - your blog is effortlessly funny and has impeccable taste.

Is this not the most stoned album you have ever heard?

I went to see him during the tour for this album and it blew me away, so dark and heavy.

Thanks for all the great posts.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger chicken one said...

Oi! thank you very much. Me being funny? Hungry.. maybe.

Oh yeah.. PMT is definitevely stoned album. But with essence of paranoia. Nearly God is much more easy going.

I missed his concert once. I will regret it 'til the end of the world. Because there is not the another chance to see him with Martina.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 5:19:00 PM  

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