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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Tricky Crafts Sound That's All His Own

June 03, 1996|DENNIS ROMERO

Tricky, whose smoldering British soul left the Viper Room smokin' on Friday night, is an exciting artist who has created yet another facet of postmodern urban sound--sour, poetic hip-hop that defies definition.

While his regular vocalist, Martina Topley Bird, remained in London to tend to their 14-month-old girl, he was joined by the soulful voice of the Stereo MCs' Cath Coffey, who played his paramour in a journey through his latest project, "Nearly God." In an album of that name, which is available only on import in this country, his music is slower and darker than on Tricky's "Maxinquaye," one of the most acclaimed works of 1995.

The slight 28-year-old sat on a stool and told his solemn stories about romance into the mike over sultry, sexy hip-hop beats as Coffey replied with the sweet antidotes to his gruff voice: "Would you like to ride on my train / Would you like to drink from my vein . . . / I'm ready on the other side."

But the treats of the night were his performances of "Night Club"--a rare up-tempo song for Tricky that was performed live for the first time, and Slick Rick's classic "Children's Story," the sad tale of a troubled 17-year-old that Tricky recited with down-tempo, deliberate reverence.

In the hands of a talent like this, the worlds of rap, dance and soul indeed come closer together, even if it takes someone from across the Atlantic to demonstrate the commonality.

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