The Sound of My Voice
Aug 14, 2013
Issue #46 - June/July 2013 - Charli XCX
Three years after living in the U.S., Bristol, England native Tricky has developed a taste for the simple life in Paris. “It’s a great people-watching city,” he notes. “In the morning I get up, go outside, have a coffee, and just watch people and chill out. And it’s a very small city; it’s like a village, so I can walk everywhere. It’s simple for me. London can take you two hours to get anywhere sometimes.”
Tricky is particularly excited about his latest LP, False Idols, seeing it as a return to form along the lines of his 1995 groundbreaking trip-hop debut album, Maxinquaye, which followed his early collaborations with Massive Attack. For False Idols, the songs were written within a couple of hours; Tricky felt that too much time had been taken dwelling over previous recordings.
“I’ve always done music quickly,” he says. “It’s natural instinct. On the last two albums, it wasn’t natural instinct; they were thought about.”
False Idols has been issued on Tricky’s own False Idols label, following a two-record stint (2008’s Knowle West Boy and 2010’s Mixed Race) on Domino. When asked what sets False Idols apart from those albums, Tricky explains that he had more freedom while working on it.
“I knew when I was doing this album, I didn’t have to get permission to mix,” he says. “I wasn’t too excited after the first album with Domino. I wasn’t really too excited about recording the next one. I did two for them. I’ve evolved now and am lucky to be doing something I love. I think I’m inspired a lot more now.”
The overall atmosphere of False Idols does have more in common with Tricky’s ’90s work, with the stripped-down production of some tracks creating an arresting immediacy. For the opening track, “Somebody’s Sins,” Tricky and vocalist Francesca Belmonte lift lyrics from Patti Smith’s classic reworking of Van Morrison’s “Gloria.” Jagged guitar punctuates “Parenthesis,” but otherwise the album is seductively subtle, from the light funk of “Is That Your Life” to the downbeat electronica that sets darker scenes for “I’m Ready” and “Hey Love.”
As with previous Tricky albums, False Idols employs various guest vocalists. In addition to Belmonte, he is joined by Peter Silberman of The Antlers, FiFi Rong, and Nigerian star Nneka.
“I used Francesca on this album because I thought her voice was wasted on my last two albums,” Tricky adds. “I think a lot of people missed a lot of what she’s about, just to get influenced by a vocalist or a vibe.”
Tricky recently completed a 15-minute movie that is in the editing stage, and later this year he plans to focus on material written for film. As for the follow-up to False Idols, he already has plans for greater implementation of a key element that tends to be overshadowed on his albums.
“I forget about using my voice a lot of the time,” he admits. “It’s weird; I have to be reminded that I’m a vocalist sometimes.”
[This article first appeared in Under the Radar's June/July 2013 print issue.]