An electrifying listen, invigorating the parts Tricky can’t usually reach.
Mike Diver 2009-11-12
With remix albums becoming increasingly common on shelves both high street and virtual, facilitated by a proliferation of affordable technology enabling any kid with a modicum of musical proficiency to reconstruct an indie-rock number into a blacker-than-night drum & bass monster, standing out from the pack is difficult indeed.
Few strike a chord with audiences beyond those already invested in the artist in question, those who’ve bought into an album’s campaign once and don’t mind displaying their completist tendencies. The guilty bands know who they are – exploitive with their supplementary collections and subsequently lambasted in the press. But Brit rapper Tricky has surpassed typical levels of expectation for such a project by handing his Knowle West Boy album of 2008 over to Florida-based dancehall production team South Rakkas Crew for a near-complete overhaul.
The bare bones remain, but this is a brand new listening experience, far removed from the atmospheres of its original guise. It’s one that has more in common tonally with recent adventures in multi-cultural explorations of low-end vibrations by the likes of Major Lazer and Buraka Som Sistema, a collision of exotic and intoxicating rhythms that dance around truly body-rocking beats. More often than not Tricky himself is relegated to a back seat position, vocally – he rules the mix on the scratch-and-glitch dynamics of Coalition, but elsewhere the high ground is captured by roaring toasters.
Great examples of this particular approach arrive in the shapes of Cross to Bear – a slowed-down swagger set against bass so deep it threatens to get in the blood and pop your heart – and intentions-signalling opener Bacative. Sci-fi synths provide the fanfare for courteous introductions, a robotic voice announcing the arrival of our architects, before both male and female contributions interweave and Tricky himself delivers the ominous line: “We come in peace / and leave you in pieces.”
An apt statement, given the way this collection has been assembled: despite the source material, it feels like a from-nothing-upwards affair, essentially a brand new album rather than a remix disc. Its multiple pieces were left in a state of disarray, but they’ve been hammered and glued into forms that enthral and excite. …Meets South Rakkas Crew is an electrifying listen, invigorating the parts Tricky can’t usually reach. Hackneyed, clichéd, mercenary – despite the pitiful end results of comparable endeavours, these things it certainly is not.