Originating in London, England, in late 1994, Earthling, along with the Mo’ Wax Records roster, Portishead and Tricky, were a core element of the new wave of trip-hop cross-genre experimentation. Led by rapper Mau (b. Ilford, Essex, England), the band’s ‘1st Transmission’ single for Cooltempo Records married the requisite dub rhythms with languid, occasionally inspired lyrics. It followed on from their debut white label 12-inch, ‘Nothing’, which won them their recording contract. The resultant album featured extended dub/jazz passages, courtesy of musical collaborator and former BBC kitchen staffer Tim Saul. Mau employed these as an anchor for his highly imaginative lyrics, which he stated are influenced as much by Leonard Cohen as conventional rap sources. The subject matter included issues as diverse as alcohol, news trivia, psychedelia and space travel, all related in cut and paste, stream of consciousness narratives. The release of ‘Nefisa’ later in the year provided the second great single to be associated with the album, but some rather savage critical comparisons to Portishead prompted Earthling’s early demise. Mau later resurfaced in the Dirty Beatniks.
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