|bgill's Trip Hop Journey|
A la Boney's shoegaze journey, I'll take a bunch of trip hop recs and write up blurbs and ratings for them. I already know most of the classics but feel free to rec some you may think too obvious.
One of the first if not the first major trip hop releases from a band steeped in history. This honestly sounded quite a lot like a Tricky album to me on the production and even featured him on vocals in a few spots. There is a subtle difference in some of the production style and there is a significant reggae influence in several tracks that stand out though. As such an innovative album, this deserves a lot of praise, and it also does because it's is very good, but many of the beats are a little too sparse leaving a thin production that doesn't quite hold me in its grasp.
Kind of watered down from their other output, but good nonetheless. Out of the classics artists who ever hit mainstream, these guys might be my least favorite though.
Tricky pulls out another dark atmosphere laden release that could be up there for the peak of his later years beside ununiform. Nothing out of the ordinary for him, but some really great tracks in We Don't Die and Valentine.
The Private Press
This album is so incredibly overlooked simply because Endtroducing... is such a perfect moment of music history. It took me about a year of knowing the name DJ Shadow before I realized he even had another album. This second outing coming 6 years after the masterpiece deserves a bit more credit than it gets. It isn't Endtroducing... but what is? This is still an incredible display of creativity and vision in production and sampling to make a really awesome trip hop album.
Morning Dove White
Okay, so I haven't *quite* heard the entire thing but I found a nearly full youtube playlist, so I think thats enough for me to give a basic overview. This album represents the poppier, more ambient side of trip hop that isn't heavy into the beats, but still has them. This album actually came out before Portishead's Dummy by a year and was the original band of Dot Allison. It's a really great record throughout, but there isn't really any huge standout moment. Some bits sound stolen from Massive Attack and the early scene, but considering this IS the early scene, it's equally likely bands stole from this.
Reggae and trip hop much like Massive Attack are the main influences here. The lyrics are pretty strange to me though but this isn't bad. I don't see myself revisiting it though.
At first glance, this band may seem like another Portishead ripoff. The female vocalist over trip-hop beats automatically assumes that position I guess when the example set by Portishead was so strong. However, that comparison really goes no deeper than that. Bringing in sounds from Asian wind instruments to jazz bass and vibraphones, this group certainly has a unique creative vision. They are able to turn their influences into something new and exciting rather than copies in another style. Also, the vocalist sounds like a cross between Stevie Nicks and Beth Gibbons with a flair I can't quite place rather than sounding like a Gibbons copycat. God Bless is a killer track.
JustJoe + Papa Universe
So this is what Shadow was doing during the long gap after Endtroducing... It has his characteristic sampling style so obviously this is very good. The thing with this album is almost every track features a different guest vocalist. This makes for an interesting eclectic feel that, for the most part, works in its favor, but a weak showing from Mike D and a bit of sameyness elsewhere keep it from masterpiece level.
|14||Red Giant (USA-NJ)|
The debut EP from a modern, Bandcamp trip hop duo. I use the adjective modern here with intention as it consist of beats not stuck in the 90's but more reflective of today's hip hop. This makes it sound more fresh and interesting, and the vocalist is talented as well.
|15||Red Giant (USA-NJ)|
The follow up EP they did here continued the modernity with even thicker, heavier production. This one has a seriously strong vibe to it that makes it stand out in today's trip hop scene (if that even really exists). Some of the vocal choices weren't my favorite here but the vocalist is still talented and the production is top notch.
More of your standard reggae influenced trip hop sound is quite prevalent on Smoke City's magnum opus, although there is a definitive tint of jazz in several places. That being said, although you can find a very similar sound to this many places on the list, this will be one of your better examples. It shines above acts like Morcheeba and some of Hooverphonic, but Lamb may be the overall prime example.
This one is a bit of a borderline trip hop release as it incorporates a wide variety of influences outside the electronic. Each song brings something unique to it in terms of influence and sound, and as a result, there are several great standalone tracks. However, some of the tracks seem to have a similar song structure and many get a little repetitive beyond comfort.
A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular
Give You The Ghost
Oh the Autotune! The vocals are all autotuned. And not the smooth Autotune but a really bubbly/crackly one that sounds like autotuned vibrato. As you can tell I was not a huge fan of that although I did get used to it by the end. The music was more along indie pop lines but there were definitely some elements of trip hop in the electronic production. Overall nothing too special but still pretty decent.
At War With Walls And Mazes
When this started out, I wasn't quite sure if it would be trip hop at all. The orchestral electronic scape, nevertheless, was beautiful and set the scene for the album quite well. After the opener, more of the beats flowed in, and that's where the album really got going. The atmosphere on this thing was THICC and luscious. The vocals were ethereal and almost shoegazey to fit well right into the mix. My only complaint may be that the vocal style got a bit repetitive, but since it was subtle and sparse to begin with, this wasn't much of a big deal. Betray is a seriously good example of the highlights.
 Okay this is just as good as Lanterns. Honestly Remedy may be my favorite Son Lux release though. all three sit around a 4.6 for me now.
And this one is even better! It's less trip hop but who cares at this point. Son Lux deserves attention. Songs like Easy (one of their best) is still pretty trip hoppy but otherwise it's just great orchestral electronic with some beats. Lost it to Trying is another amazing track.
This hip hop album uses production in a similar vein to that of J Dilla and DJ Shadow making it worth a spot on this list although not entirely trip hop (as many others on this list aren't). As a hip hop album, the unique vocal style, lyrics, broken beyond belief song structures make this stand out as a very interesting work. The songs structures are primarily aided by the wonky beat production consisting of haphazardly strung together jazz and hip hop samples which is the true highlight.
A much more minimal take on trip hop is this album. Not slowed down in the sense of downtempo and not thinner production, just a more minimal presence of sound. I'm sure they must have been going for this vibe but I didn't really dig it.
Haul Ar Yr Eira
Papa Universe (band is Parera Elsewhere, album is All of This)
|29||Nightmares On Wax|
Mmmmmm. This one has some tasty, smooth beats. A teensy bit repetitive, but it's w/e.
|30||Nightmares On Wax|
From the Deep
Skalpel, rather than creating the feel of a dark, haze-laden drug lounge as many trip hop bands seek, have succeeded in creating a much brighter and open release that doesn't seek to suffocate the listener. Part of how they've achieved this is through some genuine jazz knowledge and experimentation with brighter auxillary instruments. While the breath of air is refreshing, its not enough to make this a masterpiece. Some of the songs like Switch really shine in this nu-jazz/trip-hop style, but some others tend to fall flat and boring. I look forward to checking their other albums though.
The Mirror Conspiracy
A downtempo version of Massive Attack somewhat, they have a lot of reggae influence. Songs like Lebanese Blonde are great but moments like Air Batucada are rather boring.
Sounds of the Satellites
This one has a pretty standard sound for what you'd see in Portishead's vein of trip hop, so it is enjoyable but nothing incredibly unique musically. The strength of this album lies mostly in the lyrics and how they help to create a very chilled atmosphere.
Nowhere near the beauty and uniqueness of the follow up, but still quite entrancing with the sound. Check Archipelago.
Although a little impatient in the introduction to its world (I use world instead of sound because this album has so much more han just a "sound" to it), it is a beauty and a marvel only this modern orchestra could create.
This review says it all better than me.
Amateur Girlfriends Go Proskirt Agents
Okay, yeah, this is a real jam. Thanks for the late add on this. The vocals are a major turnoff at first, but once you give it a chance this is some awesome stuff.
Edit: Can't stop jamming this. It's nearing 5 level. Bump
|45||Lilacs and Champagne|
Midnight Features Vol. 1: Shower Scene
So this EP had very little trip hop influence, but considering the limited pool for recs here, I'll write it up anyway. The first track started out with a psyched-out feel over a trip hop type beat that was pretty nice. After that is was mainly a psychedelic rock album with a lot of electronic elements. Pretty good stuff though
|46||Lilacs and Champagne|
Midnight Features Vol. 2: Made Flesh
The sequel LP to Vol. 1 had a lot more trip hop in it, and turned out to be a really interesting blend of psychedelic and trip hop. There weren't many shining moments of genius, but it was quite an enjoyable experiment nonetheless.
|47||London Funk Allstars|
London Funk Volume 1
This works great as a collection of songs. Each song individually is quite interesting with entrancing beats and jazz bass as well as plenty of other layers. However, each songs seems to serve the same exact function, whether or not the structures change or stay the same. It starts simple, adds layers progressively, pulls out and switches up, and ends. Great when spread out but not back to back to back. That being said Stoney Street and New York Editor are particularly great songs.
A different take than Bricolage but much the same result. These songs have a more interesting structure and some really great jazz drums, but the soundscapes aren't up to the level of Bricolage.
This one was a real treat. It might seem like more of your standard fare at first with yet another female vocalist and many of the same types of sounds, but the songwriting by this group is pretty far superior to a lot of others with this sound. Songs like Secrets exhibit some really nice broken beats while the closer is a long and winding trip smoother than you'll find from many others.
Nothing Follows, Nothing Stays
Breath from Another
So if at this point you are familiar with even a few on this list, you won't find much that you haven't before on this album. That being said, this is easily one of the better releases on the list because it so effectively brings in many of those influences that, while not perfectly original, work when executed well.
Psychic 9-5 Club
A slower and more atmospheric rec that almost combine its trip hop base with a bit of drone. The atmosphere from this is great, but it gets stale rather quickly to the point of boredom.
Music By Cavelight
A right pleasant listen with some really interesting samples and good chill vibe. Nothing overly special but worth your time for sure.
Blue Wonder Power Milk
Tales of the Forgotten Melodies
Ahh, here we go. Here is another rec that takes chill and makes it relaxing rather than boring. The crackling production and frequent film samples give it and old feel that is rather comforting while maintaining interest. The use of Nina Simone's Feeling Good rendition is the highlight of the album.
So this one is a more spaced out version of trip hop. Very chill and pretty dark. Part of the way they create this sound is through production and a bit of droning repetition. This repetition I'm not such a huge fan of though because it makes the album feel very style-over-substance in terms of the writing. Some great songs (like Fear of Flying, yes) but not an album I'd actively listen to or revisit in entirety very often.
When It Falls
A/T/O/S has some really beautiful production and is one of the most modern sounding albums on this list. There's a deeper low end presence that was missed on earlier trip hop here. The vocals sound fresh and the lyrics are good for the most part too.
|69||Everybody Loves Irene|
The Very First Thing You Must Learn About Flying..
Tales Of Us
For Sleepyheads Only
I’ve Been Here the Longest
Music for Babies
Me, Before Competition (BC)
So this isn't entirely trip hop, but about half the songs have true trip hop beats leading to some of the best music in the genre. This is my favorite Bjork album for that reason, and one of my favorite albums overall. She is a beautiful music genius.
Female vocalist wisps over trip hop beats. Sounds pretty predictable but considering Allison was active with One Dove before Portishead's Dummy, this isn't just a copycat act. Leaning more towards a downtempo aesthetic, Allison crafts some very chill moments that go from overtly sensual to basking in the, well, afterglow. Colour Me and Message Personnel are perfect songs.
One of the albums that convinced me I was really into trip hop came out just last year in 2017. This isn't the best of the list and doesn't have any mind blowing moments, but it's really consistently good and has it's own unique and fresh sound.
A late release by Tricky of the original scene, this album has some of the old and new. He's exploring other influences a fair bit throughout this release and it works for him as he creates one of his most soulful releases and one of his best.
While this isn't completely Trip Hop, there's an underlying mix throughout that album that give it that same feel. While moments like the Rock the Casbah mix and The Party's Just Begun aren't the best, perfect songs like the closer, Deliver Me, make the whole thing quite worth it.
Very similar in style to Dummy, their s/t is perhaps actually a bit darker than their debut. The vocals are more cutting than sweet although the beats retain a similar vibe. Overall it's another great listen that maybe just doesn't hold your attention quite as strong as Dummy.
As another of my "true trip hop" classics next to Endtroducing... this album perhaps is the other side of a very valuable coin. Instead of blowing you away with complexity and vision, this album has the most encapsulating atmosphere of any release in the genre. Potentially it could be viewed as style-over-substance, but when the style is this good, that isn't a criticism. Also the songwriting is still incredible, and Wandering Star may be one of my favorite songs from this list.
Papa Universe BC
More in the downtempo side of the genre, Air create a soft, swirling atmosphere that will send you into a trance. It may not be the best at demanding your attention, but it sure will take you somewhere.
Papa Universe/TheSpaceMan BC
Endtroducing... is easily the most impressive display of deejaying I have ever experienced and probably exists. There was no notion in my mind that I could be that blown away by a mixture of samples, but I was surely incorrect. Every moment, every beat, and every song flowed with such precision, but even more impressive was the emotion. I had no idea sampling and mixing alone could create such an atmosphere. My biggest internal conflict with this record, though, regarded creativity. I do not doubt the skill it took to make this but is there some inherent limit to creativity and true expression when the music you create actually doesn't come at all from you? I struggled with this question for a bit, but I do believe I've settled pretty firmly on the negative. Shadow uses the samples as his instrument and it feels just as human as any other. 4.9
I expected Maxinquaye to have a lot of grit, that really dirty sound rooted in an intelligently directed anger. Instead, it has a clean sound with soft vocals and mildly provocative lyrics. Now that in and of itself is by no means a bad thing, but it was unexpected for me. What makes those choices unwise, to me, is that the attitude behind the lyrics begged for that grit. When you cover a song about refusing the draft because the country has never treated "a black man" or "a brother" with respect, the listener will expect to hear some anger. The listener is greeted, however, with a soft female vocalist singing these lines meant to be from a black male perspective. This choice to use another vocalist worked well in many points in the album, but certainly not here where all personality from the lyrics is lost. Where Tricky does have the guts to use his own voice is on songs about sex, which only weakens his perspective. Lyrics were a con but the production was great.
Another classic of the genre, this one may have the most (whether people realize they know it or not) well known trip hop song in Teardrop, and rightfully so. It's a great song. But there's also a ton of other good stuff on here. Stylistically, I've always found Massive Attack to be slightly unfocused, but their production and songwriting skills are undeniable.
Cold Water Music
We Are Science
Soon It Will Be Cold Enough
Also Sons of Koop
This album at first made me think of Christian Scott who skillfully blends jazz and hip hop. Koop analogously blend jazz with trip hop. Early highlight Glomd show this off very well as the band creates a cool and unique sound. It lulls some in the middle, but Once Britten kicks back in near the end with some harder beats for another album highlight.
|92||Kruder and Dorfmeister|
The K&D Sessions
I decided to include this Bjork album too because, although it is also only about half to three-quarters trip hop influenced, that's more than some of the others on this list. Here Bjork goes into a heavier emotional realm than the light and manic Debut, and again it is a masterpiece in both production and music in general. (Okay yeah I'm biased for Bjork, but you can get over it).
Interesting take on the genre from former black metallers, but I'm not a fan of how his vocals mix in with the style. Sometimes this comes off as trying too hard, but others times the sound is unique enough to be mesmerizing.
Test. Don't Test
Pretty much your standard fare but very pleasant at that.
Love, pussycats & carwrecks
|99||9 Lazy 9|