Friday, July 13, 2007

Video Vault: Tricky, Christiansands

People have been ragging on MTV since before Trevor Horn finished warbling the first verse of Video Killed The Radio Star, but you know what? From about 1982 until about 1997 -- my Prime Listening Years -- I discovered more music that I liked via MTV than from college radio, repeated viewings of Urgh! A Music War, and a whole decade's worth of NMEs combined.

Case in point: This mesmerizing clip by Tricky, entitled Christiansands, from circa 1996. This was one of the comparatively rare instances in a lifetime of watching MTV where I saw the video and almost literally rushed out and bought the album. It's a good album, and Christiansands remains embedded in lots of playlists on my iPods, but the real benefit was that discovering this led me, indirectly, to Massive Attack, a band that I continue to adore.

There's not a lot to this video. It's basically just Tricky and Martina lounging around some sort of hipster bus station or something. It could be that they're waiting for the man (26 dollars in their hands) to arrive with a bag of ganja, 'cause after a while Tricky literally starts climbing the walls. The video is effective at positioning Tricky as Bristol's answer to Snoop Dogg.

The song is a marvel. It's built around a simple little Spaghetti Western guitar figure repeated at intervals, a buried, distorted sample of "La Di Da Di" by Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew (really!), and absolutely unidentifiable instrumentation and sound effects. I have never heard effects quite like this on anyone's vocals before or since.

Apparently, all the Massive Attack and Portishead guys hated the term Trip Hop, but this is one of the songs where the label really fits, and all the protestations in the world aren't going to shake it.

Of course, MTV hasn't played videos regularly in a long time. It's a lifestyle channel now, but who cares when there's YouTube?

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