Has the genre of music loosely known as "trip-hop" faded away or has it been incorporated into other genres/labels?
April 26, 2010 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Has the genre of music loosely known as "trip-hop" faded away or has it been incorporated into other genres/labels?

In the hope of avoiding chat-filter tendencies lets start with the acknowledgment that the whole notion of labeling genres of music has been and will always be somewhat suspect. I don't think many of the bands associated with the label (Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky, early Morcheeba and others) were super-fond of the term either.

Having said that, there are some themes that were common in these bands' music such as using loop-based bass and synth samples (often slower tempo although not always) , incorporating effects such as echos/flanging into the rhythm of the song, sometimes mashing up electric guitars with scratching and hip-hop based beats, lyrical themes of disillusionment/distrust and so on.

Has this style of music gone the way of the surf rock genre of the 50's? Or did it just evolve/dissipate into some other format? Are there any new bands who release full albums in the genre?

It would not surprising to hear I'm simply out of touch and most people know that trip-hop simply morphed into _____.
posted by jeremias to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Check out the wikipedia article, which suggests that trip hop spread its DNA across the pop landscape but no longer exists as a cohesive sound.
posted by grobstein at 1:47 PM on April 26, 2010

A good case could be made that 'trip-hop,' like 'electronica,' is a genre label generated from without rather than within.

Terms like 'instrumental hip-hop' and 'downtempo,' which cover some of the same ground as 'trip-hop' (the overlap isn't perfect, natch) seem to have more staying power.
posted by box at 1:52 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd say that there are still artists making trip-hop, with The Atomica Project and Trigger 10D being current examples that come immediately to mind. Hungry Lucy, too, though their stuff is less dark and more sweet-sounding.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:55 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would agree that "instrumental hip-hop" seems to cover a lot of the ground that trip-hop was operating in. Check out the Ninja Tune label; a lot of their artists incorporate the musical characteristics you mention.
posted by KilgoreTrout at 2:11 PM on April 26, 2010

Trip-hop has been a very unpopular moniker with some (check out the opening track on Kutmasta Kurt's Masters of Illusion for one) and like box says, other terms seem to have more staying power. Bristol Sound is another term, and in that spirit it's worth mentioning King Midas Sound, the latest project of Kevin Martin (God/Techno Animal/Ice/The Bug/The Sidewinder/etc.) which has something in common with the early Tricky sound.
posted by galaksit at 2:14 PM on April 26, 2010

most people know that trip-hop simply morphed into ...dubstep
posted by dydecker at 2:48 PM on April 26, 2010

Like so many styles, it's continued to evolve. It was never a sound unto itself, born mainly of hip-hop and "moody downtempo" elements. As such, I think it was a transitional style, one if changed too much became something new. Compare that to Drum'n'Bass: the former started with breakbeat rave, moved into jungle, then fractured into liquid step, tech step, darkstyle, and some have returned to the classic rave roots now. Another example: hip hop genres - they're all still hip hop.

In short, I think it was too specific of a sound to grow and evolve. (And dubstep rose from UK Garage, from what I've seen/heard.)

Other examples of (vaguely) modern "trip-hop" sounds and styles: Jem, whose sound is some odd upbeat trip-hop, which seems contrary to the basis of trip-hop.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:13 PM on April 26, 2010

Don't forget grime along the way from UK garage to dubstep.
posted by galaksit at 3:19 PM on April 26, 2010

another hand up for dubstep here. If I'd never heard of dubstep then I'd be describing stuff like Burial as trip hop.
posted by muteh at 4:01 PM on April 26, 2010

It's been diluted and spread out over many other different genres. There are fewer Portishead/Massive Attack soundalikes, but if you listen to a downtempo DJ or radio station the influences are clear.

"Dubstep" as a genre did not come directly from trip-hop; it is more like UK garage -> grime -> dubstep -> beyond. Like Trip-hop, there are few pure-dubstep artists, but the bass influence has moved to lots of surrounding musical genres (D&B, hip hop, deep house, other experimental). Genre labels these days (especially in electronic music) mean less and less the more and more that they are applied.
posted by mezamashii at 7:02 PM on April 26, 2010

some friends and I run a downtempo night at a local Boston club, generally catering to folks who picked up a taste for Portishead and Massive Attack along with, say, the Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance and Delerium -- you may know the type: urban Burners, aging ravers looking to dance to something slower, grown up goth kids who got omnivorous about dark atmospheric music, etc. We've been running this particular night for nigh on five years, and prior to that spun at various places from 1997 onwards, so ...

Generally speaking (and at the risk of sounding like a Pandora genome tech) I think that what was called trip hop can be split into three different sounds depending on your primal inspiration:

Massive Attack - emphasis on dub, hiphop influences, minimal vocals
Portishead - emphasis on samples, jazz influences, significant female vocals
Coldcut - turntablist, hiphop and jazz influences, vocals are all sample based

Looked at this way, there is some common musical ground, but it's relatively obvious that the label was more of a lazy shorthand for sample-heavy electronic music coming out of Bristol and London in the early/mid-90's that was kind of (wrongly) pegged as the UK answer to American hiphop. The sounds continued to evolve and branch from each other, so Portishead leads one into Morcheeba and Hooverphonic, while the Coldcut sound leads you to Ninja Tune's stable of instrumental turntablists, and Massive Attack takes one into the realms of dubstep. Across that spectrum, comparing, say, DJ Vadim or Bassnectar to Jem would be a little tough, but one can at least trace some of their influences to a twisted little nucleus of inspiration in the British music scene circa 1993.

What do we play nowadays at our night? lots of the stuff above (Massive Attack, Jem, Bassnectar, etc.) plus Amon Tobin, Beats Antique (the whole tribal bellydance thing isn't specifically related but it kind of rides a separate stream that flows alongside), Thievery Corp, Niyaz, Royksopp, Boards of Canada, Goldfrapp, Natacha Atlas, Squarepusher, Ulrich Schnauss, RJD2, Gorillaz, etc. So, yeah, kind a crazy quilt of sub-120 bpm stuff with some breaks, or no breaks, some girls singing, some dub, some jazz, a little eastern percussion, and a bit of what some folks still call IDM; but each of them is still, somehow, someone's answer to the question of "can you play something a little trip-hoppy?"

... well, maybe not so much with the Boards of Canada, but 'Hi-Scores' still packs the floor ...
posted by bl1nk at 7:26 PM on April 26, 2010 [21 favorites]

Meat Beat Manifesto. that's all I have to offer, but it's enough.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:42 PM on April 28, 2010

« Older Something besides insurance fraud.   |   How do I download PDFs from online journals... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.