Avid listeners will know that Tricky has a penchant for the dreary. This is no insult – indeed some of the best trip-hop turned dreariness into an aesthetic – but that downcast voice coupled with those slow, lumbering drums and battered textures can be a real buzzkill.
Much of Fall To Pieces fits this mould, with moody lyrics and a lingering unease, the ghost in the machine, but tracks like I’m In The Doorway are more light-hearted, featuring an endearing piano line and a sweet performance from Oh Land.
The production has a plunderphonic quality and the telltale signs of sampled loops, subtle hints of artifice, are present throughout. The beatflip on Running Off is particularly inspired, swapping a delicious guitar sample and backbeat for sub bass and a steady 4×4 plod. Throws Me Around, meanwhile, layers syncopated kicks over solemn drones and lyrics that are as enigmatic as they are lovelorn (“kills when it’s done / throws me around / I always fall for this”).
Tricky delivers Hate This Pain’s beleaguered spoken word over bluesy piano, but for the most part vocal contributions are handled by Oh Land and Marta Zlakowska, dusky, mellow voices that set the tone and compliment their accompaniment well. Close Now puts Marta in sharp focus, a minimal growling bass the only backdrop to her hushed harmonies, and the song’s themes of strife and perseverance are powerfully understated.
The songs are generally short, befitting a short release, and sometimes the structural choices feel a little eccentric because of it, for example the abrupt end of Chills Me To The Bone. At times like this there’s a feeling that more could be done with the songs to make them feel complete, but as it stands Fall To Pieces is an intriguing sampler for Tricky’s present-day sound.