Pre-millenium Tension


Island Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Dense and suffocating, Tricky's album Pre-Millennium Tension was not the album that would take trip-hop to the top of the charts. Tricky is one of the most prolific artists around today, at the same time he's one of the most pretentious, and that pretension clouds Pre-Millennium Tension.

Tricky has said he does not want to be lumped into the "trip-hop" category of music. Fair enough, but Tricky tries to prove too much as he is both repelled and infatuated with other genres of hip-hop, such as gangsta rap. "My Evil Is Strong", "Bad Things" and "Bad Dream" all have the elements of gangsta rap with certain twists. Each boasts about having the ability to coldly look someone in the eye and shoot, but one song is a dream, one moderately condems the life and one tells the tale so chillingly, if merits repulsion.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In these weak moments, Tricky is obviously not in his comfortable element. In Maxinquaye, his supremely acclaimed 1995 album, Tricky made a sound that was a sonic trip unlike anything most people have ever heard. That sound more than carries into Pre-Millennium Tension. The thick throbs of "Christiansands" and the staccato struts of "Tricky Kid" are some of the fattest beats you'll hear on any album this decade.

Like Lee "Scratch" Perry, Tricky thrives on the journey. While Pre-Millenium Tension sometimes falters, you can't dis him for not daring to try new sounds. Tricky successfully dips into reggae with "Ghetto Youth" and does a crisp cover of "Lyrics Of Fury". However, this cover lacks the sheer sonic pulverising beats he gave us when he covered Public Enemy's "Black Steel" in Maxinquaye.

Tricky's deep rasp is gripping, but Martina is still the one who puts the listener in a trance. Though she's not as present as she was in Maxinquaye, she's the saving grace on Pre-Millennium Tension. Since 1995, Martina split with Tricky, though they do share a child. It makes me wonder if the split made Tricky give Martina less of a role on Pre-Millennium Tension. The songs that Martina does sing on are the strongest on Pre-Millennium Tension. "She Makes Me Wanna Die", "Christiansands" and her entrance on "Sex Drive" give each song a mysticism that lacks when she is gone.

Tricky never wanted to be accessible. He probably didn't make any new fans with Pre-Millennium Tension, but a little bend towards a distinct rhythm would help him greatly. After all, Maxinquaye has only sold about 80,000 copies, hardly a sell-out. Still, Pre-Millennium Tension is a sonic journey that rewards the listener again and again. Shut out the lights and burn a few candles and Tricky can take you on a sonic trip. But Martina does something much more important in Pre-Millennium Tension:when she's on she makes the trip tangible.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.