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RECORD RACK

Are We in the Mood for Tricky's Bleak Side?

August 18, 1996|Dennis Romero

NEARLY GOD

"Nearly God"

Durban Poison/Island Independent

* * *

If music is a mood enhancer, this collaboration between British soul artist Tricky and a handful of all-star singers is a bittersweet depressant--nothing less than the best of post-modern blues.

While Tricky has been known to hide behind the crisp vocals of his girlfriend, Martina Topley Bird (as on his groundbreaking 1995 debut album, "Maxinquaye"), he steps up to the mike more this time to mix his raspy-voiced spoken word into his slow, pot-baked beats and wickedly incongruous electronic loops. The sound is decidedly new--British trick-hop based on simmering studio electronica--yet firmly rooted in foot-tapping rhythm and blues.

Tricky's lyrics are painfully frank, like a lover's most hurtful insights. "I cannot wait to deeply neglect you / Deeply forget you . . . You promised me poems," he says on "Poems." Bird, Bjork, Neneh Cherry, Alison Moyet, Cath Coffey of the Stereo MCs and Terry Hall, formerly with the Specials, give the album resonance as Tricky clearly choreographs their vocals and his beats into a sonic structure that borrows as much from cut-and-paste techno as more traditionally chronological pop.

Tricky, 28, from Bristol, England, takes listeners down a dark road--as dark a road as, say, Jim Morrison often traveled: "Would you like to ride on my train / Would you like to drink from my vein . . . I'm ready on the other side." The question is, is Tricky taking us on a self-indulgent ride? And are we in the mood for this bleak slide?

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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