Born: Jan. 27, 1968, as Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws in Bristol, England.
Sounds like: A dark alley you shouldn’t have walked through; a rave in a smoky old jazz club.
For fans of: Portishead, Massive Attack, Tom Waits, Brian Eno, Sade, Curtis Mayfield, Lil Wayne.
Latest release: Mixed Race, which breeds Tricky’s hallmark dark and minimal electronic vibe with jazz and world-music influences.
Why you care: In the mid-’90s, Tricky was heralded from the underground to the mainstream press as a great musical visionary who was bound to become—along with Moby and that tri-hawked guy from Prodigy—an enduring voice of an emerging electronic generation. Hearing his 1995 debut, Maxinquaye, it was hard to argue the point. A brooding, funky disc full of fucked-up reggae and hip-hop swagger, the disc sounded like nothing before it. Three albums later, Tricky had lost some of his mysterious appeal, and much of the world lost interest. Tricky’s 1998 release, Angels With Dirty Faces, traded in long, psychedelic tracks that felt almost improvisational in nature (keep in mind this was the year Radiohead released its own dystopian masterpiece, OK Computer, which made many of Tricky’s electronic contemporaries look downright silly), and by the 1999 release of Juxtapose, he had dismantled and rearranged his sound until it was almost unrecognizable. There are songs to mine from his uneven aughts output—especially from Knowle West Boy, which trades Tricky’s focus from loop experiments to compelling song structures. About two-thirds of this year’s Mixed Race EP feels like a return to form. The others feel grossly unnecessary. But that’s Tricky in a nutshell.
SEE IT: Tricky plays Doug Fir on Sunday, Dec. 19. 9 pm. $23 advance, $25 day of show. 21+.