Release Date: Jan 22, 2016
Record label: False Idols
Genre(s): Electronic, Rap, Trip-Hop, Electronica, Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Post-Rock
Tricky Presents Skilled Mechanics, the eleventh album from trip hop veteran Tricky, is one that sees him step away from the role of chief architect and instead embark on a more collaborative way of working. Appearing alongside past collaborator DJ Milo of famed Bristol collective The Wild Bunch and regular touring drummer Luke Harris, it’s a move resulting in an album that feels creatively fresh. Guest vocalists are a common theme in Tricky's back catalogue, and though the aforementioned trio form the firm backbone of this album with Tricky himself supplying a good sized helping of the vocals, it also quickly becomes clear that this is a tradition that hasn’t been veered away from.
Like his 1996 LP Nearly God, Tricky's 2016 release Skilled Mechanics falls somewhere between a proper artist album and a side project. Collaborators are heavy in the mix, many of them coming from the trip-hop survivor's label, False Idols, but if this LP was just meant to pimp the roster, then confessional masterpieces like "Boy" ("At 12 I met my dad, his name was "Roy"/He forget my name, he call me "Boy") wouldn't be dropped here. A wistful and indie-influenced tune with Luke Harris crooning most of it, the highlight "How's Your Life" is another personal journey as Tricky realizes his homebody style and middle age nature mean friends slowly drift away, but in true Nearly God fashion, this is also a spiritually free album, so don't be shocked when Porno for Pyros' "Diving Away" gets a two-minute, loose run-through with a thumb piano driving the melody.
Hey. Adrian. Err, Tricky. You mind if I drop in? I’m writing this review about your album, and I wanted you in it. You don’t have to say much – in fact, you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to. I’m just trying to make a point. You named your last album after yourself ….
Tricky’s vocals are more to the fore on Skilled Mechanics, a collaborative side-project with long-time collaborators DJ Milo and Luke Harris, than on much of his solo work. His voice is a mumble, sometimes a mere whisper – and when it’s double-tracked, as on Here My Dear, it’s often unintelligible. When he is audible, as on Hero, his rhymes can be less than illuminating: “She’s a no-no / Wants Perry Como / She’s kinda sour like a power like Bono.
Three decades into his career, Adrian Thaws, the trip-hop legend better known as Tricky, is still tinkering with his sound. Through the use of a more pre-packaged, contemporary style, his twelfth album, Skilled Mechanics, finds a slick aesthetic that's far removed from the doomy dub of his past.A joint effort with Wild Bunch co-founder DJ Milo and drummer Luke Harris, Skilled Mechanics is proof that Tricky, in all his stomach-knotting disquiet, is probably best left alone. With his band in tow, Thaws' music lacks its usual cutting-edge standard of production.
When Adrian Thaws (aka Tricky) broke through on Massive Attack’s Daydreaming, the Bristolian rapper had no desire to sound American. It was a breath of air so fresh that it carried listeners through Thaws’ ever-darker explorations with that group and under his own stage name. His first solo album Maxinquaye was lauded for its ambition, toying with gender politics and describing his notorious paranoia.
In spite of the usual lull of a new year, this January, in particular, was jam-packed with loads of exciting releases that cover a whole gamut of styles and attitudes. Sometimes we just don't have the time and resources to cover them all, but that doesn't mean we're always listening. Below are some ….