The lyrics were always strange; hypnotically droned out in Tricky's stoned slur with the occasional bright flourish of Martina Topley-Bird descending from heaven, they hint at some internal cohesion that is barely beyond your grasp. I guess it's about drugs, or about his terrible upbringing, or something.
I take further evidence.
I seem to need a reference to get residence
A reference to your preference
To say I'm a good neighbour,
I trudge so judge me for my labour
Lobotomy ensures my good behavior
The constant struggle ensures my insanity
Passing the indifference ensures the struggle for my family
We're hungry, beware of our appetite
Distant drums bring the news of a kill tonight
The kill which I share with my passengers
We take our fill, take our fill, take a feel
That seems pretty straight forward. You're a suspect guy, so you need a reference in order to make it into the better, bourgeois parts of town ("I'm a good neighbor"). And good reason you're suspect - if you're listening to distant drums and sharing the kill with your passengers, I had better be wary of your appetites.
But maybe not quite so easy to figure out. Where is he going with this?
Mr. Quail's in the crevice
And watches from the precipice
Is it just word play? Or is "Mr. Quail's in the crevice" really "Mr. Kray lays in the crevice", which I assumed was a reference to the British gangster. Or are we even talking about Mr. Quaye, as in Tricky's grand dad, Maxine Quaye's father? All very through provoking.
Added to that is the video which I am now currently obsessing over. Go ahead and give it a watch. It gives me the heebie jeebies, with Tricky as a kind of strung out Mephistopheles. For such a simple video (95% of the video is a close up of Tricky singing), it has some surprising depths. Why the hell does he have a cross on his hand? What is up with that makeup? The head shake thing to transfer between himself and Martina is a simple and clever device -- but what is more interesting to me is how similar it is to the device used in "Evolution Revolution Love".
Same thing - Tricky is singing, but his face literally changes between people here. Very strange. It makes me think there is some obsession of his own playing out here.
Back to the Hell. The other thing that I find really interesting in this video are the facial expressions of Martina Topley-Bird. She was very young in 1995, like 17 years old. The ingenue shines through at 27 seconds in. The little eye lift and the shrug speak volumes. Same with her slightly longer appearance 2:22; the slight uplift on "shelter" and "isms schisms".
What I find so interesting is not just her (though I love her voice. One of the few albums I have bought in the past years is her debut. As someone said about Raymond Chandler, I think she sounds like a slumming angel). What I find really interesting is how very little movement in the first appearance, literally a few centimeters worth, conveys a very distinct and complex impression. An impression of unsurety, if that is even a proper word.
What is so amazing is how much humans can infer from so little about each other. This is both good and bad of course - it lets you understand someone's interior feelings very quickly, which is undoubtedly useful for a societal animal. Bad in that it leads quickly to prejudice, and bad that you can of course interpret minor movement incorrectly.
I think about it sometimes - how extremely minor changes make all the difference in how someone looks and how we then react to them. An inch on a hairline, or a bust line, or a hemline, can completely change the impression we get of someone.