Ben Winch's Album Review
What’s the best album of the nineties? Well it probably isn’t Nearly God, but at moments during its one-hour running time you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Like when, in the semi-Akira-Kurosawan post-noir sci-fi soundtrack “I Be the Prophet”, Tricky (with Martine warbling counterpoint) mutters “My vibe’s just a fucking feeling” and “I’m already on the other side”; or when Alison Moyet—over the darkest, sparsest, most abstract of beats (a halftime five shuffle, so slow every snare-hit is a surprise)—belts “Gonna make the change fantastic” in “Make a Change”. Make no mistake, this is experimental to its core; no-one ever sounded like this before, and maybe no-one has sounded like it since. Tricky always had something messianic about him—it was one of the best things he took from hip-hop, in my opinion, because of the spin he gave it, far more cosmic than competitive, like a soothsayer in a waking trance. Nothing on Nearly God will reach out and grab you—this isn’t Rakim, Nas or Tupac—it’s not made to rev you up for a rumble, but to quell you and quietly blow your mind when you’re sedated, when you can’t see who to fight and you’re in danger of fighting yourself, when your mind turns cannibal, when you’re struggling. It’s got stars in it, and long corridors at the ends of which lurk demons or angels. It’s a trip—into darkness, sure, but sometimes you have to go there, and Tricky knows the terrain. As the man says, smiling, in “Black Coffee”, “Move over!” I bet they’ll still be making space for him several years hence. It’s a grower, Nearly God, and to some extent a game-changer.