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  Let's Push Things Forward Through the Sour Times:
Trip-Hop and Jazz
  by Dustin Garlitz  

December 2004:

Birmingham (UK) based ‘The Streets’, a.k.a. Mike Skinner, has a track on his 2003 album Original Pirate Material that encourages the listener to “Push Thing’s Forward” and look beyond the standardized, monotonous (and stagnant) music of today.  The song has a catchy trombone riff and features the British version of Pharrell singing the melody.  Skinner ends the album spitting over a break beat on the composition entitled Stay Positive.  There are elements of jazz throughout the ‘garage’ album that the adventurous indie listener would be interested in hearing.  The Streets 2004 album A Grand Don’t Come For Free is also recommended because of its incorporation of modern jazz sounds from the wiz kid’s producer.

Bristol (UK) based Portishead was one of the founding groups of trip-hop in the 1990s. Their 1994 album Dummy has Beth Gibbons belting out that “Nobody Loves Me” on Sour Times.  Track 9 (Pedestal) features a great trumpet solo, but the highlight of the album for me is Gibbon’s coy, playful style on the closing track called Glory Box.  The album’s songs sample everyone from Isaac Hayes to Weather Report.  Portishead’s 1996 self titled album is darker and features the lead single Cowboy.  If you want to hear the band with strings, check out their Live at the Roseland album (an acoustic tour-de-force). 

Bjork is from Iceland and has worked with Oliver Lake as well as the Wu-Tang Clan.  A fashion student I know from the Parsons School of Design in New York City has all her albums (he even went to Iceland over Spring Break in 2000 to see her spin at a club.  He told me her best work is Homogenic, whose opening track combines techno with strings -- a 21st century Charlie Parker or Clifford Brown orchestral affair.)

         DJ Shadow was the sole American to burst onto the trip-hop scene in the 1990s with his album titled Entroducing.  The jazz listener would probably be more interested in tracks like "Fixed Income" on his Private Press album on ‘Ninja Tune’.  This British electronica label has also experimented with jazz sounds on DJ Vadim’s Russian Percussion and DJ Food’s various projects.

DJ Krush, of Japan, is a true innovator of trip-hop.  His song Skin Against Skin features jazzy singer Deborah Anderson and was part of USA Network’s La Femme Nikita soundtrack.  Actually, the release of La Femme Nikita’s Second Season on DVD was  postponed due to legal licensing issues from this track.   Krush is the jazziest of the musicians featured in this write-up -- one of his tracks actually made it on the Re-Birth of the Cool soundtrack.  One shouldn’t forget about another eccentric genius of electronic music -- Aphex Twin. 

If you want to cross over to techno at-large (free of a lot of the jazz that accompanies traditional trip-hop), look to Fat Boy Slim, Moby, and Paul Okenfold.  The other big names are Sasha & Digweed, Paul Van Dyke and LTJ Bukem.  There is some jazzy noise found in these musicians’ work.  If you want ambient jazzy techno though, check out DB’s mix of Photek’s work on The Secret Art of Science.