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Cast adrift in space an ODE to TRIP-HOP

Cast adrift in space an ODE to TRIP-HOP

By Ian Browne Shamrock News

Ask most what they think of Trip-Hop and they will look at you like you just asked them to explain the chemical equations to cold fusion. I asked a friend who grew up in London what his favourite outfit from the genre was, his reply: “I don’t know what that is, and I don’t think I would like it either!” Well, I peeled off four of the biggest names within Trip-Hop, to which he joyously replied: “I love all of em!”

Trip-Hop took off in the early nineties and to this day it’s still one of my favourite pastimes. During an era when fusion was the key to enlightenment, becoming unclear was the tribal divide between Metal, Punk, Goth and Rap subcultures. It was now fine to dance to Acid House, and other grooves, which did kaleidoscope out from the UK and Europe. But what is TRIP-HOP? Where did it originate from? Well, working back one night in Darwin, an English journo hosting ABC Radio docos described Trip-Hop as “Hip Hop for middle-class white folk.” Well, I guess most of the members of Bristol’s Massive Attack, and Morcheeba’s Skye Edwards, with their Afro-Caribbean roots, may disagree. Yes, the beat was there, but the sound also found its path from such genres as Goth, and other underground intrigues.

At a time when Jungle was popular in the UK, I enjoyed it when BBC radio played one of my favourite Massive Attack songs, SLY, while I was preparing food in an Edinburgh kitchen. Particularly with outfits such as Massive Attack, the influence of Tricky saw reggae and dub conjoined to marvel. By the time Massive Attack’s Mezzanine graced us in the late 90’s, guest vocals of The Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, added that dark, sonic-mysticism. The baby in the womb film clip of TEARDROP, further comforted with Fraser’s angelic whisperings, was ever popular on Rage, the song itself a promo to many ABC and SBS TV programs. Three years post-millennium with the sultry Egyptian ambience of 100TH WINDOW- also invited to attend for Massive Attack, Sinead O’Connor brought us near to tears with her hauntingly honest and seductive lament on life.

Other popular songs that breached the mainstream include Morcheeba’s THE SEA, and Groove Amada’s AT THE RIVER. The return to Morcheeba of front woman Skye (Shirley Klaris) in 2009, saw her first song from Blood Like Lemonade, CRIMSON, chillingly elaborate a car accident “hell bound hopeless for you.” From space, EVEN THOUGH describes our greed and our selfish disregard for this planet “look at all the waste out here, did we peak too soon?” Morcheeba sits towards the ‘loungie-blues’ end of the spectrum with a few appearances at Byron’s Blues Fest, and with a whopping 7M CD’s sold worldwide! An English outfit that also helped build the genre, Portishead, named after the town the group inhabits, somehow managed to marry mischievousness with desperate morbidity. No one should ever deny the impact their single GLORY BOX, from their first album in 94, Dummy, had on the music world “give me a reason to love you, give me a reason to be a woman”. Their more recent release ‘P’ (Portishead Third) with its sixties space sci-fi meets Joy Division, is unique.

“I’m going to love you till the seas run dry and the Earth stops turning” - tunes that take one’s breath away include Lamb’s GORECKI, while Massive Attack’s PROTECTION, SAFE FROM HARM and UNFINISHED SYMPHONY- always ready to impress. Other popular indie favourites from the UK include the Sneaker Pimps, pictured here, with Kelli Dayton’s sexily charismatic chiming of urban secrets. Of theirs, forever to indulge within such tunes as 6 UNDERGROUND and SPIN SPIN SUGER.

Trip-Hop, tis Hip Hop for da white folk? Nah, it’s everything for everyone, and from a time when that was just fine.


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