Trip Hop is an unpleasant term. It’s a horrible marketer’s tag for the richly layered, smoky Bristol Sound of the early 90s.
Initially pioneered by Smith & Mighty, the production style was imprinted on a cover of Wishing On A Star, by the local band Fresh 4. Fresh 4 were an offshoot of another Bristol collective at the time called the Wild Bunch. The Wild Bunch went on to be known as Massive Attack featuring a number of local rappers and musicians.
Uncomfortable with the acclaim that Massive Attack garnered for their first albums, Tricky opted to record his own work with Martina Topley-Bird under the Tricky moniker, releasing this later as his own debut album, Maxinquaye.
Shunning the acclaim, Tricky opted to record a self described collection of demos under the name Nearly God, featuring collaborations with people such as Neneh Cherry, BjÃ¶rk, Martina Topley-Bird, Alison Moyet, Terry Hall, and Cath Coffey for his own label, Durban Poison. Also at his time his skills as a remixer were in demand, remixing folk such as Garbage, Intastella, Bush, Yoko Ono, Black Grape & The Notorious B.I.G.. I must say, I’m not exactly sure what the contribution is for Grandmaster. Featuring Tricky on a cup of tea and John Tonks on spliffs I’d guess.
Double checking this album leads me to suspect that it was released under the Tricky name in the US, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t the case in Europe as the Poems single is certainly attributed to Nearly God and Pre-Millenium Tension was the second album, but I might be misreading this.
One other point of note is that Children’s Story wasn’t included on the album, only the Poems single. It’s an odd cover of the Slick Rick track, and I find it’s kind of missing the end of the track without the children at the end.
Anyway, Tricky’s second album, Pre-Millenium Tension is a dark, difficult listen, although not without appeal and definately a snapshot of the time. Later albums find him in a lighter mood covering tracks such as the Love Cats and the Wonder Woman theme, but nothing quite meets the bleakness of this release.