Thursday, 1 January 2015

In the hour of chaos, only defeat

Some context: early nineties, the joy of the rave scene was turning drab (bad drugs sneaking in, the division of the clubbing nation into tribes, the state attempting to legislate against repetitive beats et cetera et cetera). More experimental electronic artists emerging, mostly making self-consciously intelligent music. Spiral Tribe still up to stuff but winter of paranoia after summer of love noticeable. 

Closer influence: the soon-to-be workmanlike Manic Street Preachers express joy that Public Enemy refused to work with them, because 'we are shit.' Such awareness soon lost as Manics turn towards the lumpen socialist rock they were supposed to transcend. 

Revival of grunge mad misery and guitars hip again.

Tricky, known quantity. Part of a Bristol scene that had eclectic tastes and hip-hop connections. Worked with Massive Attack and Portishead (or at least shared a vinyl collection).

First blast - a cover version of Black Steel by Public Enemy. Transposed from America to UK, dropping Chuck D's stentorian declamation (and optimistic fantasy of prison escape) with a disorientated female voice. Lyrics half-remembered, repeated. Unlike in source, singer remains in prison and doesn't bust out of prison. Tricky's voice only turns up to sound like a prison warden tapping on the cell bars.

Ruins of hip-hop, in which Tricky retains themes of arbitrary law and paranoia, removing machismo of Chuck D, leaving a woman captive. Dynamic metal guitar races into psychedelia but never jumps the groove to funk or wail

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