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Tricky - Fall to Pieces (Album Review)

Thursday, 10 September 2020 Written by Jacob Brookman

On ‘Fall to Pieces’, Tricky’s 14th album, the Bristloian trip-hop pioneer has partnered with Polish singer Marta Złakowska to deliver a short and low-slung album of dark, brooding pop.

Its thematic bleakness is justified. In 2019 Tricky’s daughter (with longtime collaborator Martina Topley-Bird) died at the age of 24. In relation to the tragedy Tricky stated: “It feels like I’m in a world that doesn’t exist, knowing nothing will ever be the same again [...] my soul feels empty.”

This hurt is most sharply realised on Hate This Pain, which matches a bleak blues motif with a monstrous whispered vocal. As with much of Tricky’s most affecting music, this song is a mournful dirge with stripped back instrumentation and an undercurrent of threat.

Chills Me to the Bone is a faster track that opens with a rapid video game patch before the rhythm is mixed up with delicate, swung beats and elegantly arranged strings.

One of Tricky’s strengths as a producer has always been an ability to find extraordinary balance in the audio mix, despite musical elements with wildly different volumes and timbres. This latter talent is demonstrated on both Take Me Shopping and Fall Please, which place chunky hip hop grooves alongside Marta’s plaintive, quiet singing. Tricky often appears on backing vocals, lending his subtle but inimitable auteur flourish to spacious, serious songs.

Despite only running to 28 minutes, the relaxant tone of ‘Fall to Pieces’ is established very quickly and the record is highly immersive and, in certain ways, meditative. But this is no easy-listening muzak—there is too much going on behind the scenes. Too much complexity, trauma and working out living in the album's large spaces.



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