Albums

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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1998 | Circa

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection du Mercury Prize
Increasingly ignored amidst the exploding trip-hop scene, Massive Attack finally returned in 1998 with Mezzanine, a record immediately announcing not only that the group was back, but that they'd recorded a set of songs just as singular and revelatory as on their debut, almost a decade back. It all begins with a stunning one-two-three-four punch: "Angel," "Risingson," "Teardrop," and "Inertia Creeps." Augmenting their samples and keyboards with a studio band, Massive Attack open with "Angel," a stark production featuring pointed beats and a distorted bassline that frames the vocal (by group regular Horace Andy) and a two-minute flame-out with raging guitars. "Risingson" is a dense, dark feature for Massive Attack themselves (on production as well as vocals), with a kitchen sink's worth of dubby effects and reverb. "Teardrop" introduces another genius collaboration -- with Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins -- from a production unit with a knack for recruiting gifted performers. The blend of earthy with ethereal shouldn't work at all, but Massive Attack pull it off in fine fashion. "Inertia Creeps" could well be the highlight, another feature for just the core threesome. With eerie atmospherics, fuzz-tone guitars, and a wealth of effects, the song could well be the best production from the best team of producers the electronic world had ever seen. Obviously, the rest of the album can't compete, but there's certainly no sign of the side-two slump heard on Protection, as both Andy and Fraser return for excellent, mid-tempo tracks ("Man Next Door" and "Black Milk," respectively). ~ John Bush
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1994 | Polydor Associated Labels

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Lauréat du Mercury Prize
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 2012 | Virgin Catalogue

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
The first masterpiece of what was only termed trip-hop much later, Blue Lines filtered American hip-hop through the lens of British club culture, a stylish, nocturnal sense of scene that encompassed music from rare groove to dub to dance. The album balances dark, diva-led club jams along the lines of Soul II Soul with some of the best British rap (vocals and production) heard up to that point, occasionally on the same track. The opener "Safe from Harm" is the best example, with diva vocalist Shara Nelson trading off lines with the group's own monotone (yet effective) rapping. Even more than hip-hop or dance, however, dub is the big touchstone on Blue Lines. Most of the productions aren't quite as earthy as you'd expect, but the influence is palpable in the atmospherics of the songs, like the faraway electric piano on "One Love" (with beautiful vocals from the near-legendary Horace Andy). One track, "Five Man Army," makes the dub inspiration explicit, with a clattering percussion line, moderate reverb on the guitar and drums, and Andy's exquisite falsetto flitting over the chorus. Blue Lines isn't all darkness, either -- "Be Thankful for What You've Got" is quite close to the smooth soul tune conjured by its title, and "Unfinished Sympathy" -- the group's first classic production -- is a tremendously moving fusion of up-tempo hip-hop and dancefloor jam with slow-moving, syrupy strings. Flaunting both their range and their tremendously evocative productions, Massive Attack recorded one of the best dance albums of all time. ~ John Bush
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1994 | Circa

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Massive Attack's sophomore effort could never be as stunning as Blue Lines, and a slight drop in production and songwriting quality made the comparisons easy. Still, from the first two songs Protection sounds worthy of their debut. The opening title track is pure excellence, with melancholy keyboards, throbbing acid lines, and fragmented beats perfectly complementing the transcendent vocals of Tracey Thorn (an inspired choice to replace the departed Shara Nelson as their muse). Tricky, another soon-to-be-solo performer, makes his breakout on this record, with blunted performances on "Karmacoma," another highlight, as well as "Eurochild." But even though the production is just as intriguing as on Blue Lines, there's a bit lacking here -- Massive Attack doesn't summon quite the emotional power they did previously. Guest Craig Armstrong's piano work on the aimless tracks "Weather Storm" and "Heat Miser" leans uncomfortably close to Muzak, and his arrangement and conducting for "Sly" isn't much better (vocals by Nicolette save the track somewhat). Though it's still miles ahead of the growing raft of trip-hop making the rounds in the mid-'90s, Protection is rather a disappointment. ~ John Bush
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 2010 | Virgin Records

Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama
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Trip Hop - Released September 22, 2017 | False Idols

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On Skilled Mechanics which came out in 2016, Adrian Thaws (a.k.a. Tricky) never emerged from the darkness. The same is true for Ununiform, his thirteenth album that he published a year later. Disc after disc, the British artists reminds us that he is without a doubt the most gifted painter/singer in terms of exploring the darkness of the human soul. He is familiar with the obscure side of the force, having been made an orphan at a young age and convicted not much later… A few months shy of 50 years of age, Tricky (who’s lived in Berlin since 2015) offers a new beautiful and disturbing collage of his various phobias, passions and nightmares. Incidentally, the German capital has made an impact on this work. Just like the Russian capital. "I like Berlin because I don’t know anyone. I eat well, I go on walks, I have a bike… I try to take care of myself. I don’t drink here. Some people might find this boring, but I wake up at 9 in the morning and I’m in bed by 11 at night. I take care of myself… As for Moscow, that’s my favorite city in the whole world! I never want to celebrate Christmas at home, so in December 2016 I spent 3 weeks there, recording while eating Russian food." As a result, Tricky invited several Russian rappers onto the tracks to join his descent into hell. Among them we find Scriptonite, MC on Blood Of My Blood and Same As It Ever Was, as well as Vasily Vakulenko, one of the most popular rappers in the country who composed the beat for The Only Way. The rapper Smoky Mo makes an appearance on Bang Boogie, a track composed by Gazgolder, the owner of one of the biggest Russian rap labels. Tricky clearly doesn’t speak russian. "I don’t need to understand what they rap. I feel it. They live each day like it’s their last, and I like that." All this hardly stops the ex-member of Massive Attack from bringing back some past collaborators, from Francesca Belamonte to Asia Argento and even his ex Martina Topley-Bird… Between dark new wave, subdued trip-hop, avant-garde rap and numbed rock, Ununiform is an MRI scan into the complex brain of a musician who’s never stuck for ideas.
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Trip Hop - Released August 1, 2013 | Mute, a BMG Company

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Though her collaborations with Tricky, Orbital, and Add N To X focused on the sheer beauty and power of her singing, on her debut album Felt Mountain Allison Goldfrapp also explores more straightforward styles. Together with composer/multi-instrumentalist Will Gregory, Goldfrapp wraps her unearthly voice around songs that borrow from '60s pop, cabaret, folk, and electronica without sounding derivative or unfocused. From the sci-fi/spy film hybrids "Human" and "Lovely Head" to the title track's icy purity, the duo strikes a wide variety of poses, giving Felt Mountain a stylized, theatrical feel that never veers into campiness. Though longtime fans of Goldfrapp's voice may wish for more the exuberant, intoxicating side of her sound, lovelorn ballads like "Pilots," "Deer Stop," and "Horse's Tears" prove that she is equally able at carrying -- and writing -- more traditional tunes. A strange and beautiful mix of the romantic, eerie, and world-weary, Felt Mountain is one of 2000's most impressive debuts. ~ Heather Phares
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Trip Hop - Released October 14, 2016 | Lab'oratoire

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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 2006 | Virgin Records

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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1997 | Island Def Jam

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Portishead's debut album, Dummy, popularized trip-hop, making its slow, narcotic rhythms, hypnotic samples, and film noir production commonplace among sophisticated, self-consciously "mature" pop fans. The group recoiled from such widespread acclaim and influence, taking three years to deliver its eponymous second album. On the surface, Portishead isn't all that dissimilar from Dummy, but its haunting, foreboding sonic textures make it clear that the group isn't interested in the crossover success of such fellow travelers as Sneaker Pimps. Upon repeated plays, the subtle differences between the two albums become clear. Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley recorded original music that they later sampled for the backing tracks on the album, giving the record a hazy, dreamlike quality that shares many of the same signatures of Dummy, but is darker and more adventurous. Beth Gibbons has taken the opportunity to play up her tortured diva role to the hilt, emoting wildly over the tracks. Her voice is electronically phased on most of the tracks, adding layers to the claustrophobic menace of the music. The sonics on Portishead would make it an impressive follow-up, but what seals its success is the remarkable songwriting. Throughout the album, the group crafts impeccable modern-day torch songs, from the frightening, repetitive "Cowboys" to the horn-punctuated "All Mine," which justify the detailed, engrossing production. The end result is an album that reveals more with each listen and becomes more captivating and haunting each time it's played. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 2009 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Tricky's debut, Maxinquaye, is an album of stunning sustained vision and imagination, a record that sounds like it has no precedent as it boldly predicts a new future. Of course, neither sentiment is true. Much of the music on Maxinquaye has its roots in the trip-hop pioneered by Massive Attack, which once featured Tricky, and after the success of this record, trip-hop became fashionable, turning into safe, comfortable music to be played at upscale dinner parties thrown by hip twenty and thirtysomethings. Both of these sentiments are true, yet Maxinquaye still manages to retain its power; years later, it can still sound haunting, disturbing, and surprising after countless spins. It's an album that exists outside of time and outside of trends, a record whose clanking rhythms, tape haze, murmured vocals, shards of noise, reversed gender roles, alt-rock asides, and soul samplings create a ghostly netherworld fused with seductive menace and paranoia. It also shimmers with mystery, coming not just from Tricky -- whose voice isn't even heard until the second song on the record -- but his vocalist, Martine, whose smoky singing lures listeners into the unrelenting darkness of the record. Once they're there, Maxinquaye offers untold treasures. There is the sheer pleasure of coasting by on the sound of the record, how it makes greater use of noise and experimental music than anything since the Bomb Squad and Public Enemy. Then, there's the tip of the hat to PE with a surreal cover of "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," sung by Martine and never sounding like a postmodernist in-joke. Other references and samples register subconsciously -- while Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Rap II" flows through "Hell Is Around the Corner" and the Smashing Pumpkins are even referenced in the title of "Pumpkin," Shakespear's Sister and the Chantels slip by, while Michael Jackson's "Bad" thrillingly bleeds into "Expressway to Your Heart" on "Brand New You're Retro." Lyrics flow in and out of consciousness, with lingering, whispered promises suddenly undercut by veiled threats and bursts of violence. Then, there's how music that initially may seem like mood pieces slowly reveal their ingenious structure and arrangement and register as full-blown songs, or how the alternately languid and chaotic rhythms finally compliment each other, turning this into a bracing sonic adventure that gains richness and resonance with each listen. After all, there's so much going on here -- within the production, the songs, the words -- it remains fascinating even after all of its many paths have been explored (which certainly can't be said of the trip-hop that followed, including records by Tricky). And that air of mystery that can be impenetrable upon the first listen certainly is something that keeps Maxinquaye tantalizing after it's become familiar, particularly because, like all good mysteries, there's no getting to the bottom of it, no matter how hard you try. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1998 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Trip Hop - Released February 22, 2005 | Lab'oratoire

Taking his cues from other forward-thinking electronica/hip-hop acts, namely DJ Shadow and RJD2, Wax Tailor (aka French sonic collage artist JC Le Saout) makes a striking impression on his 2006 full-length debut, Tales of the Forgotten Melodies. Although Le Saout is mining well-worn territory, his heavy use of samples and his knack for establishing a highly cinematic atmosphere set him apart from the pack, as revealed on his cut-up, movie dialogue-laden version of "Que Sera" and the dreamy "How I Feel," which weaves in the unmistakable voice of Nina Simone. ~ Eric Schneider
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1995 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection du Mercury Prize
Tricky's debut, Maxinquaye, is an album of stunning sustained vision and imagination, a record that sounds like it has no precedent as it boldly predicts a new future. Of course, neither sentiment is true. Much of the music on Maxinquaye has its roots in the trip-hop pioneered by Massive Attack, which once featured Tricky, and after the success of this record, trip-hop became fashionable, turning into safe, comfortable music to be played at upscale dinner parties thrown by hip twenty and thirtysomethings. Both of these sentiments are true, yet Maxinquaye still manages to retain its power; years later, it can still sound haunting, disturbing, and surprising after countless spins. It's an album that exists outside of time and outside of trends, a record whose clanking rhythms, tape haze, murmured vocals, shards of noise, reversed gender roles, alt-rock asides, and soul samplings create a ghostly netherworld fused with seductive menace and paranoia. It also shimmers with mystery, coming not just from Tricky -- whose voice isn't even heard until the second song on the record -- but his vocalist, Martine, whose smoky singing lures listeners into the unrelenting darkness of the record. Once they're there, Maxinquaye offers untold treasures. There is the sheer pleasure of coasting by on the sound of the record, how it makes greater use of noise and experimental music than anything since the Bomb Squad and Public Enemy. Then, there's the tip of the hat to PE with a surreal cover of "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," sung by Martine and never sounding like a postmodernist in-joke. Other references and samples register subconsciously -- while Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Rap II" flows through "Hell Is Around the Corner" and the Smashing Pumpkins are even referenced in the title of "Pumpkin," Shakespear's Sister and the Chantels slip by, while Michael Jackson's "Bad" thrillingly bleeds into "Expressway to Your Heart" on "Brand New You're Retro." Lyrics flow in and out of consciousness, with lingering, whispered promises suddenly undercut by veiled threats and bursts of violence. Then, there's how music that initially may seem like mood pieces slowly reveal their ingenious structure and arrangement and register as full-blown songs, or how the alternately languid and chaotic rhythms finally compliment each other, turning this into a bracing sonic adventure that gains richness and resonance with each listen. After all, there's so much going on here -- within the production, the songs, the words -- it remains fascinating even after all of its many paths have been explored (which certainly can't be said of the trip-hop that followed, including records by Tricky). And that air of mystery that can be impenetrable upon the first listen certainly is something that keeps Maxinquaye tantalizing after it's become familiar, particularly because, like all good mysteries, there's no getting to the bottom of it, no matter how hard you try. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Trip Hop - Released March 15, 2018 | Dangervisit

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You All Look the Same to Me is the third record by a British band Archive released in 2002. With a sound halfway between classical trip-hop of Bristol school and electronic psychedelic rock (and many shades of alternative pop in between), Archive enjoyed more success in continental Europe, (i.e. in France) than at home. ~ Sergey Mesenov
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 2010 | Virgin Records

Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 2003 | Virgin Records

A new album from Massive Attack is an event, even if only one-third of the original group is present for the festivities. Just the group's fourth album in more than a dozen years, 100th Window marked the departure of Mushroom (permanently, after artistic differences) and Daddy G (temporarily, to raise a family), leaving only one founding member, 3D (Robert del Naja), to muddle along with arranger/producer Neil Davidge (who made his Massive Attack debut on 1998's Mezzanine). Though Del Naja is mostly successful giving the people what they want -- a follow-up to Mezzanine, one of the most compulsive listens of '90s electronica -- it unfortunately comes as a sacrifice to the very thing that made Massive Attack so crucial to dance music: their never-ending progression to a radically different sound with each release. For better or worse, 100th Window has the same crushingly oppressive productions, dark, spiralling basslines, and pile-driving beats instantly familiar to fans of Mezzanine. Fortunately, it also has the same depth and point-perfect attention to detail, making for fascinating listening no matter whether the focus is the songs, the effects, or even the percussion lines. Jamaican crooner Horace Andy is back for a pair of tracks ("Everywhen," "Name Taken") that nearly equal his features on the last record, while Sinéad O'Connor makes her debut with three vocal features. Unlike Liz Fraser or Tracey Thorn (two Massive Attack muses from the past), O'Connor's voice lacks resonance and doesn't reward the close inspection that a Massive Attack production demands. Still, her songwriting is far superior and the slight quaver in her voice adds a much-needed personality to these songs. "A Prayer for England" is a political protest that aligns itself perfectly with the group that coined its name as a satirical nod to military aggression. Another feature for O'Connor, "What Your Soul Sings," is the only song here that compares to the best Massive Attack has to offer, beginning with a harsh, claustrophobic atmosphere, but soon blossoming like a flower into a beautiful song led by her tremulous voice. In comparison, the four songs for 3D are average at best, mere recyclings of the same ideas heard years earlier. That's satisfaction enough for those who kept Mezzanine near their stereo for years on end, but a disappointment to those expecting another masterpiece. ~ John Bush
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Trip Hop - Released July 24, 2015 | Cheeky Records

Having been making music for over ten years (their first single, "Salva Mea," hit British airwaves in 1995), English club superstars Faithless celebrated their longevity by issuing Forever Faithless, a greatest-hits compilation that contains nearly all of their singles ("Take the Long Way Home," "Crazy English Summer," and "If Lovin' You Is Wrong" are missing) as well as one brand new track, "Reasons (Saturday Night)" (the U.K. version has two more that aren't on here). And while most of the songs fall easily into the house realm, there are a few -- "Don't Leave," "Mass Destruction" -- that venture into pop and trip-hop (or perhaps trip-pop) and show off the band's versatility, or at least ability to appeal to a wider swatch of people. There aren't really any surprises on Forever Faithless, and the selections are pretty much spread out between all four of the group's full-length releases -- meaning that if you already own them there's not much of a reason to get this album except for the new track, which is good but not exceptional -- but it makes for a very successful overview of the band nonetheless. ~ Marisa Brown
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Trip Hop - Released April 2, 2007 | Lab'oratoire

Trip Hop - Released March 15, 2018 | Dangervisit

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Trip Hop in the magazine
  • Tricky goes East
    Tricky goes East On Skilled Mechanics which came out in 2016, Adrian Thaws (a.k.a. Tricky) never emerged from the darkness. The same is true for Ununiform, his thirteenth album that he published a year later. Disc after disc, the British artists reminds us that he is without a doubt the most gifted painter/singer...