Baby Namboos Ancoats 2 Zambia

It’s certainly forgivable if you think that Ancoats 2 Zambia is Tricky's best album since Maxinquaye. Ancoats... bears an incredibly strong resemblance to his 1995 debut, with its drunken beats, thick, dubby bass lines and male and female vocals weaving urgently in and out of one another. Thing is, while the Baby Namboos are on Tricky's Durban Poison imprint, and while Namboo programmer and main man Mark Porter is indeed the producer's cousin, a Tricky album this is not. The comparisons are obvious and inevitable — particularly given vocalist Leo Coleing's incredible likeness in sound, style and range — yet the Tricky one appears officially on but three pieces. The title song is a taut, glorious example, bringing Tricky's early rhymes on Massive Attack's Blue Lines to mind, yet he sounds far more focussed, especially whilst accompanied by Coleing, MC Claude Williams (familiar from his Wild Bunch/Soul II Soul days) and the stunning vocals of Aurora Borealis. "Trials and Tribulations" represents the Bristol sound and sense of adventure to the max, as Borealis sings syllables and dodges Coleing's words, all played out over rootsy bass lines, scratching and persistent keyboards. Just as the sparring settles, drummer Mad-dog picks up the pace, moving from downtempo into breakbeats and Williams steps in to rip it up. Aurora Borealis is the shining star of two other stand-out pieces, the raw, introspective "Hard Times" and the stunningly sparse "Holy," where she sing-songs against conventions, chanting, "I'm not the girl I used to be...but I am holy," in her incredibly unique and haunting voice. Yes, the comparisons to Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead are easy to level, but when all is said in done, Ancoats to Zambia is pure poetry in motion. (Durban Poison)