I have to admit, trip-hop is one of the strangest genres I have ever encountered. To me, trip-hop can produce nearly anything. DJ Shadow produced a very hip-hop based masterpiece known as Endtroducing while Massive Attack produced the counterpart masterpiece in more of the rock vein with Mezzanine. Artists make trip-hop aggressive, while others make it introspective and restrained. The genre features music with vocalists and without, and even those vocals encompass nearly all styles of singing. With all this variety, the possibilities are endless. In my opinion, everyone can find a trip-hop band they enjoy. One of the more accessible trip-hop bands is a British outfit called Morcheeba.
Morcheeba is (on this album):
Paul Godfrey- DJ
Ross Godfrey- Guitar and Keyboards
Skye Edwards- Vocals
Morcheeba combines pop elements, rhythm and blues, and trip-hop into one accessible, enjoyable mix of music. With each release by the ensemble, they slowly moved towards a poppier sound. Charango is one of their better melds of trip-hop and pop, showcasing Skye Edwards as a fantastic vocalist with a relaxed, airy voice suitable for the chill, laidback feel of the Godfrey brothers' music. While nearly every song takes this laid back feel of down-tempo, laidback music, the variety is still noticeable. Songs range from acoustic driven ballads to typical pop songs to slow hip-hop. Paul Godfrey's disc jockeying is quite simple, never appearing as a standout and usually just laying down the backbone for the rest of the musicians to shine. Ross Godfrey plays all of the instrumental melodic themes, proficient on both keyboard and guitar. Of the brothers, he is the more talented, at times taking great solos and superbly creating a virtuosic aura about him. However, Skye Edwards is the standout on the album. As stated, her voice is relaxed and laidback. However, her voice is incredibly beautiful, throwing in some fragile vibrato at times although mostly remaining a steady pitch vocalist. Lyrically, she is nothing spectacular, but strays away from enough cliche that the lyrics don't stand out as being particularly bad.
The album opens with the aptly titled Slowdown. Starting with an extremely bluesy guitar matched with keyboard, immediately, Morcheeba show that they are from a whole different vein of trip-hop. A bass line lays down an undercurrent between the guitars. A laid back rim-click oriented beat comes in, putting the song in a meditative, laid-back feel. Skye enters with her vocals, singing in her mid-range. A cello adds in for the chorus, adding a sweeping feeling. Skye sounds a bit jazzier in the chorus, especially when saying "slow down." The song begs at the listener to slow down much in the way that Radiohead's The Tourist would. The chord progression varies slightly in the second verse, switching the order of some of the chords. After another chorus and verse, Ross takes an extremely bluesy guitar solo. His brother lays down a great beat to accompany him, and Ross' guitar is mixed so it sounds heavenly, sort of from a different world. The song closes on a reprise of the chorus.
A few guest rappers appear on the album, including Slick Rick who raps to the song Women Lose Weight. The song is hilarious, with Rick rhyming about how he killed a girl solely because she was overweight. Multiple tracks of Skye's vocals open the song, creating a great sounding harmony. A hip-hop drum beat adds in along with an easy bassline. Rick enters saying how his wife gained weight after having a few kids and now she's completely unattractive. Reasoning that because of the lack of desire, the marriage just cannot work now. He contemplates divorce, but decides that child support and alimony are not his ideas of fun. Finally, he decides the only option left is to kill her. The chorus showcases the multiple Skye voice vocal harmonies, sounding out of a Ray Charles disc. A high synthesized string section sits high above the vocalists. Rick repeats that he has to kill his wife. The second verse goes on about how he decides to kill his wife. After deciding against poison or cutting her lungs, he decides to bash into her car and kill her. He sends her straight over the divider and she dies in the accident. Following the second chorus, a phone call is acted out, showing Rick talking to a lieutenant about his wife's death. Rick acts upset, and obviously sells it to the lieutenant. However, everyone at the funeral wonders if he did it, seeing as how he hated her weight gain. After hooking up with his blonde secretary a few times, he finally is caught, but decides that the moral of the story is to not gain weight. Musically, the song revolves around the same hip-hop groove established in the beginning. Ross lays down a good keyboard groove along with his brother, and little nuances add in here and there.
The closer on the album, The Great London Traffic Warden Massacre, is a feature of the Godfrey brothers jamming on a groove. The song opens strongly, immediately establishing a groove as plays a melody on the keyboard. After a drum fill, he moves to guitar and plays a completely different melody on there. Synthesized vocal harmonies come in, somewhat acting as the chorus of the song. Ross jumps back to the keyboard, adding in string hits along with a harp melody. Following a few variations, the drums drop out and Ross tracks all kinds of synthesized sounds, still maintaining a groove even without the drums. Once the drums come back in, the guitar plays a funky rhythmic strumming pattern for a short while. Old riffs continue to return. All in all, this song is nothing special. At only 3 minutes, a lot more could have been done with the song. Paul underperforms on this song, as well as most of the album. Ross' riffs are too simple and not tracked high enough so they only blend in and sometimes are hardly heard.
Morcheeba relies entirely on vocal performances to make a complete, enjoyable song. For this reason, after Skye Edwards left for a solo career, the band immediately found a replacement before doing anything else. However, no replacement has served as well as Skye Edwards, her voice easily distinguishable and beautiful. However, this album has its purpose. If someone is looking to enter the trip-hop world, this album can associate one with the grooves and (vague) style of the (vague) genre.
Undress Me Now
The Great London Traffic Warden Massacre