Midnight Album Feature: Morcheeba – Who Can You Trust?

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Greetings. I’m DJ Michele Myers. Every Friday night at 9pm I host a show on KEXP called Nite Life. I hit the air with danceable sets for 3 hours, then at 12 o’clock I do a Midnight Album Spotlight. Last Friday I featured Morcheeba’s 1995 release Who Can You Trust?.

Morcheeba is a trip-hop band. Trip hop is a kind of music whose foundation is slowed-down hip hop loops. On top of that, the best trip hop has live instruments. In Morcheeba it’s guitar, drums, bass, DJ and vocals.

Trip hop gets a bad rap in the music media. Here’s the descrip from allmusic.com:

Yet another in a long line of plastic placeholders to attach itself to one arm or another of the U.K. post-acid house dance scene’s rapidly mutating experimental underground, Trip-Hop was coined by the English music press in an attempt to characterize a new style of downtempo, jazz-, funk-, and soul-inflected experimental breakbeat music which began to emerge around in 1993 in association with labels such as Mo’Wax, Ninja Tune, Cup of Tea, and Wall of Sound. Similar to (though largely vocal-less) American hip-hop in its use of sampled drum breaks, typically more experimental, and infused with a high index of ambient-leaning and apparently psychotropic atmospherics (hence “trip”), the term quickly caught on to describe everything from Portishead and Tricky, to DJ Shadow and U.N.K.L.E., to Coldcut, Wagon Christ, and Depth Charge — much to the chagrin of many of these musicians, who saw their music largely as an extension of hip-hop proper, not a gimmicky offshoot.

Even though many music critics call it a “gimmicky offshoot,” trip hop surrounds us. It’s all over television, radio and the special loops have become a standard in some pop music. To me, trip hop is relaxing music. The best artists are cinematic and deep. Here are my favorite trip hop albums. 1. Morcheeba – Who Can You Trust?, 2. Thievery Corporation – The Richest Man In Babylon, 3. Recline (a compilation on 6 Degrees label that has a variety of artists, it’s absolutely perfect), 4. Air – The Virgin Suicides (soundtrack), 5. Natural Calamity – Peachhead.

Morcheeba was founded by of brothers Ross and Paul Godfrey. On this record, Who Can You Trust, and on all their early albums, the band’s vocalist was Skye Edwards. I’m not sure why, but on the last few records from Morcheeba, the band changed singers. This is really sad because the combination with Skye was musically perfect. And the band was never the same without her… Here’s a vid of “Trigger Hippie” from Who Can You Trust?:

Who Can You Trust? is trip hop at its most soulful and cinematic. I’m hoping that someday brothers Morcheeba will bring back the great singer Skye Edwards. Until then, I’ll just keep spinning this record.

Big news from DJ Michele Myers: THIS FRIDAY NIGHT March 7 from 9pm-1am I’LL BE SPINNING my show Nite Life LIVE as part of the John in the Morning at Night show at Neumo’s on Capitol Hill. Please join me, John Richards, the KEXP Posse and the great bands: The Duke Spirit, The Voom Booms and Tulsa for a night of dance sets, live music and revelry. Aw yeah.

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2 Comments

  1. V
    Posted March 5, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree… Morcheeba is a wicked band that got swept under the rug with a bunch of other great acts. I highly recommend their best-of compilation titled “Parts of the Process.”

    “World Looking In” is by far my favorite track of theirs… instantly brings me back to Europe where I first fell in love with this group!

  2. C
    Posted March 7, 2008 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Morcheeba does get too much of a bad rap. I remember working in Wyoming for a summer job in the late 90’s and using Big Calm as a Trip Hop gateway drug for people a little too stuck on Bob Dylan (no offense).

    With the ice thus broken I could move them into Hooverphonic and finally into Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack. By the time I left I the same people made me a mix tape with Beastie Boys, Dick Dale, Kool and the Gang, Bela Flek, the Statler Brothers, Tribe Called Quest, Sublime, Paul Simon the aforementioned trip hoppers and of course Bob Dylan. It was a bit of train-wreck of a tape… but at least it was a multi-genre train wreck.

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