first we take Manhattan...
Shortly after the release of 'Adrian Thaws' Tricky is already looking to the future: Francesca's solo album that he produced is released in June 2015: 'Anima'. Tricky contributes vocals on some tracks and produced all tracks. The album is released on Tricky's label 'False Idols'.

Following the release of 'Adrian Thaws' Tricky went on a little world tour
(as announced in this  salessheet) that took him to Europe, Israel, Brazil and Argentina. In case you were wondering why Tricky is touring so much all these years, he gives two reasons: "Touring is constant traveling and I’m a gypsy and it keeps me busy. If I don’t stay busy I can get into trouble" (BBM), "and when I’m on stage, I’m asexual. I don’t need water, I don’t need sex, I don’t need food … It’s the closest you can come to being god – and I don’t mean god as this divine being. Everything is simply perfect" (Heaphone Commute). For the first time he releases a live recording (from Gdansk, Poland, 29. October 2014, see discography here), you can download it for free, if you sign up for the official newsletter here.

His need for constant change also causes him to move to Berlin in the summer of 2015. He said in interviews that he never liked the city before, but he was always there in winter and when he finally spent a summer in Berlin he began to like it. The city is not as trendy as other cities and its people are more individuals and "real", he says. He could go on the streets in his pyjamas and no one would care (Deutschlandradio). He is more relaxed than in London and that's why he is more creative. So no wonder a new album is on its way soon! A first tune is 'Beijing to Berlin' with a Chinese female rapper called Ivy. Tricky admits that he has no idea what she is rapping and which language it is at all, but that doesn't stop him from releasing this song as a first single in October 2015.

The b-side of the single is 'Necessary', a song that Tricky did together with his longtime friend DJ Milo (Milo Johnson). They grew up together, even lived in the same house for a while and Milo got Tricky into The Wild Bunch. While Massive Attack and Tricky got famous, DJ Milo chose to be more underground, he's living in New York, DJing and sometimes releasing material as DJ Nature. Tricky was already working with him from time to time, mostly in 1998. Some tracks were released on the Half Baked soundtrack, one was released on a bootleg vinyl ('God's Bass'), and some are probably unreleased. And he also was the first person Tricky ever recorded songs with, so he reminded him of these times and pushed Tricky to use his voice more and be more of a rapper (berlin 030).

So for the next album Tricky wants to to bring his vocals more to the front and also perform without a female singer, that's why he choses to do this album not as Tricky but as a project (similar to 'Nearly God').
He works closely with his tour drummer Luke Harris and calls their collective 'Skilled Mechanics': 'There was an ex-C.I.A. agent on this programme speaking about assassins who were sent abroad by the US to start revolutions and topple governments. He called them ‘skilled mechanics.’ I thought that was a great name for someone who was a killer basically. The name was so dark and cynical it just stuck with me (press release).' Luke Harris is not only drumming, but also singing on the album. Tricky discovered by accident how great his voice is: 'We were on tour recently and the band were soundchecking while I was in the dressing room. I could hear the vocals loud and clear but then my regular singer, Francesca Belmonte walked past the dressing room. I thought, ‘What the fuck?’ So I went out to have a look and there was my drummer filling in for her on vocals (press release).'

Besides regular members Tricky and Luke Harris 'Skilled Mechanics' has various guests, mainly DJ Milo (on five tracks), but also unknown singers like Ann Dao and XDare (Renata Platon). The album 'Tricky presents Skilled Mechanics' is released in January 2016.
The album also has one track with Francesca, but she's not the main female vocalist as she was on recent Tricky albums. Danish singer Oh Land contributes vocals to "I'm Not Going", but the track was actually recorded around 2012 (see this Facebook post): Tricky recorded some songs with Oh Land, but then she got dropped from her label and since Tricky didn't get paid he owns all that material. The songs on 'Skilled Mechanics' have a certain Eighties-synth-sound and turned out more pop than Tricky imagined, but he noticed that afterwards. Tricky often says in interviews that sometimes he even realises what a song is really about when he listens to it after it's finished. The same happend with the song 'Boy': after he recorded it he noticed that it's basically his life in three minutes (berlin 030). It is definitely one of his most personal songs, talking about his childhood in Knowle West and how he met his Dad for the first time: "I found my dad in the phone book when I was 12 years of age. For some reason I used to sit in my auntie's house and go through the phone book. This says to me that I was looking for an identity. Looking for myself. I found someone who had the same last name as me and my aunt said, 'That's your dad. Why don't you give him a call?' I used to go and see him and he would literally forget my name. It's almost like I could have written this track 20 years ago but it was something that had to come out eventually, I had to put it down. But everything on that track is true. Every word on Boy is actual fact." (press release on Pitchfork). Because he releases this album not as Tricky he can tell his stories from a more personal point of view: 'In Tricky, I play the background… I play my story through female vocals. Me becoming the front guy, the rapper say or the vocalist, it gives me a different story.(Notion Magazine)

All the songs on the Skilled Mechanics album are quite short, even though sometimes they exist in longer version ('We Begin' is longer on the Deluxe edition of Francesca's album, 'Unreal' with XDare is longer on her Soundcloud).
A reason for this shortness is that Tricky doesn't want to "stretch" songs unnaturally. He thinks that a song tells you when it's finished, also he doesn't want to make singles, but an album (i-D interview). The songs sound very minimalistic and raw, more like demos, which is another similarity to the Nearly God album, which Tricky once called "a collection of brilliant demos". The album was recorded in the summer with Milo and Luke Harris in his appartment in Berlin, they were cooking, recording and having fun. In general Tricky is very relaxed and happy in Berlin, he says in interviews and that makes it possible to create music, in London he only went out and didn't record much (i-D interview).

Maybe Tricky's relaxed mood has caused some old wounds to heal, he seems to be friends again with former Massive Attack colleague 3D. In an interesting radio interview with Resident Advisor Tricky mentions that 3D called him and that it was really fun talking to him. 3D asked him if they can release a track they recorded together (probably 2012 in Paris). In the interview Tricky was not sure if he should do it, but soon the track really gets released: 'Take it there', part of an EP by Massive Attack called 'Ritual Spirit'. A few days later also a video for the song is out. According to 3D the man in the video, who is struggling with his inner demos, could be a visualisation of Tricky's and his relationship, which has been "fractious" over the years, but now they are "on the same track" again, as he says in a TV interview. Tricky even joined Massive Attack on stage to perform the song together, when Massive Attack played in Berlin on February 18 (see a video here). Maybe they will even release more tracks together in the future? Tricky seemed to enjoy recording with 3D again after all this time: '
We both went off and did our own thing so to come back after all these years is quite fun. And also it’s quite interesting, after all these years it was like we didn’t miss a step... we even argued on the first day, within an hour, it is exactly the same as it was.
(Notion Magazine)

For the time being Tricky is touring with the new material across Europe until April 2016 (for the first time without a female singer, which is a challenge he was seeking), but there are already new things in the workings: Tricky mentioned on Instagram that he wants to release a book with
"life pics, family pics, words and lyrics from past till present". The False Idols label has signed Kiko King And Creativemaze, who supported Tricky at his German tourdates, maybe an album will be released soon? Tricky also wants to finished an album with Russian rappers (Human Skills Of Slow Saga) and another Skilled Mechanics album will follow this year or next, maybe an EP in summer. So like always there's a lot to look forward to in the future...



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