Memory Trip-Hoppin’

Trip hop is a music genre also known as the Bristol sound. The trip hop description was applied to the musical trend in the mid-1990s of downtempo electronic music that grew out of England’s hip hop and house scenes. It is often rejected as a term by those artists to whom it is applied. […] Trip hop gained notice via popular artists such as Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, [and] Thievery Corporation [among others]. Massive Attack’s first album Blue Lines in 1991, is often seen as the first manifestation of the “Bristol hip hop movement”.

What I’ve been doing so far today: listening to music, watching music videos, surfing and blogging. A great way to spend the the day in nasty rainy weather. When one of my favourite Portishead (pronounced Portiss-head and not Portish-ead as some would have it) songs came on, it prompted me to watch a bunch of their previously unseen video clips. When I saw the video for All Mine from their self-titled second album Portishead (1997) I was so impressed with it—that heartrending young girl mouthing the lyrics in what seems like a live taping from the 60’s doesn’t leave anyone indifferent I’m sure—that it prompted me to write the following comment:

I remember being introduced to this band [on my first trip to Paris in 1994] by a DJ friend who worked the hippest Paris/London clubs when P-head & Massive Attack were just starting to gain momentum. It felt like falling down the rabbit hole and discovering [I had grown] a pair of wings all at once. Seems like a lifetime ago, yet it still sounds fresh and absolutely magical a whole 15 years later [in fact, kids today are also big fans of their music]…

From the first, I was instantly enamored with Portishead’s sound, which includes textured electronic soundscapes combined with masterful scratching—on the Roseland NYC Live album, recorded during the eponymous one-off performance, they also featured strings by the New York Philharmonic orchestra, to great effect I might add—and of course Beth Gibbons’s signature ethereal, heartbreaking delivery of songs featuring poetic, slightly mysterious lyrics. this then new style of music they had created, grabbed my heart and soul and from that moment on I felt compelled to play Portishead, Massive Attack, and Tricky (to name just those three) over and over and over again.

It didn’t hurt that I was in my mid-twenties and a full-blown pothead. After all, this music which created by and for 420-aware individuals, so it was bound to appeal to me. In fact, I had to take a long break from Trip Hop when I decided to quit my pot habit once and for all, which took several years of trial and error. It had become a powerful trigger for me and without fail, hearing just the first few notes of any song was enough to send me into a massive unbearable craving (so much for the theory that pot isn’t addictive). It also brought back memories of an exciting time filled with plenty of new discoveries, yes, but also plenty of heartbreak and drama. This included grappling with my constant mood swings for which I had no diagnosis, no name nor qualified support yet. So much time has passed—I can’t say how strange that feels—but I can finally listen to Trip Hop music and enjoy it for it’s own sake, without being immediately plunged into the past and that mixed bag of memories. Perhaps more importantly, it no longer compels me to seek out my old 420 connections so I can “be at one” with the music. The music itself is trippy enough as it is. And besides, I think all that THC has somehow binded itself to me on a molecular level. It’s the cheapest and most legal way to do get high. Too bad I can’t patent it somehow, I’d surely make a fortune.

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