When he was last in town, a couple of years ago, in support of his dense, devilish Pre-Millenium Tension, Bristol, England-based Tricky achieved the impossible: He transformed the sound and fury of a studio-constructed vision into a deep organic scream. At Mississippi Nights he was phenomenal one of the best shows the club has ever seen, an alchemic blending of early Public Image Limited, Public Enemy, Lee "Scratch" Perry and fellow Bristol natives (and former bandmates) Massive Attack. He and his band created an impenetrable brick of bass and texture, with the tiny Tricky yowling and crawling. If this upcoming show is a fraction as powerful, you'll be bowled over.
It seems trite at this point to say that Tricky and Massive Attack "invented" trip-hop in the late '80s and early '90s, because that's suggesting that they're to blame for all the thin, beat-based blandness that arrived in their wake. But if you want to get to the core of the truth, it's right there: He and his Bristol fellows (most notably Massive/ Tricky predecessors the Wild Bunch) had the vision to meld dub, R&B, hip-hop and post-punk into one sound. Tricky harnessed the energy and coupled it with his distinctive vocal grumble (along with the voice of his ubiquitous collaborator Martina), and over the course of his four full-lengths and an equal number of side projects, he's constructed heavy-duty beat-based soundscapes driven by a constant shuddering threat that seldom concerns itself with pop structure.
Though last year's Angels with Dirty Faces was a bit of a disappointment, Tricky's recent Juxtapose, a collaboration with Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs and hip-hop producer Grease, has as much open space as his first release, Maxinquaye. Tricky seems to have pulled back a bit, and the result is remarkable. Artists with such a distinctive vision don't come around often, and when they do it's a blast to witness. Don't miss this show.