Pre-Millennium Tension

Pre-Millennium Tension

By the time Adrian Thaws began working on his second album as Tricky, the languid electronic soul of his debut, Maxinquaye, was being polished by other artists into something even more palatable at dinner parties. Eager to shake the “trip-hop” tag, Tricky made his own music increasingly unsettling: “Can hardly breathe”, he utters in a smoke-damaged drawl against backward guitars and rumbling beats on “Vent”, heralding a murky, claustrophobic and fractious 45 minutes. His fusion of rap, punk, dub and, on “Piano”, the sound of a respirator, is as hypnotic (“Christiansands”) as it is abrasive (“My Evil Is Strong”)—and consistently inventive. Pre-Millennium Tension restated the possibilities for British hip-hop, its influence creeping as far and wide as Burial and Radiohead.

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