Trip-Hop in Bristol – a brief history – 1994 rises

Posted on 9 February 2012
By Samantha Maine
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As part of our look back to the year 1994 and its wider impact on culture today, we re-introduce you to the biggest genre to come out of the year and out of Bristol entirely.

The term ‘Trip-Hop’ was first coined by MixMag in 1994, for lack of a better word to describe the new Bristol sound. Its down tempo electronic approach spawned from the house and hip-hop scenes was now moving into a genre of its very own.

Although why this particular term was used has not been made clear by the passage of time, some say that ‘Trip’ reflects the dreamscape sounds and emotions which filter through the songs.

‘Hop,’ is mainly taken from the hip-hop influence upon the genre, with its use of samples and break beats.

The genre itself is known to be lo-fi produced, typically using analog recording equipment with sultry ambience and vintage jazz samples.

Coldcut’s remix of Eric B & Rakim’s ‘Paid in Full’ was one of the first to showcase the sampling delights that Trip-Hop could offer.

Technically, Bristol pioneers Massive Attack’s first album ‘Blue Lines’ released in 1991 is hailed as the first Trip-Hop album created. However, due to its originality many found it difficult to put their finger to a name.

It was only when the band’s second album ‘Protection’ was released in 1994 that the term was solidified and Trip-Hop was at an all-time high.

The trend continued to rise, as Bristol’s own Portishead and Tricky created sullen and atmospheric tunes that escalated the Trip-Hop popularity.

All three have a common history, as Massive Attack and Tricky once all worked together under the group ‘The Wild Bunch,’ headed by Nellee Cooper in 1982. Geoff Barrow of Portishead also worked with Massive Attack during ‘Blue Lines.’

Smith & Mighty are also a deserved duo of Trip-Hop, with their late 80’s break beat covers of ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ and ‘Walk on By.’

They also produced Massive Attack’s first ever single ‘Any Love,’ cementing them as the pioneer producers of Trip-Hop.

Without these particular producers and groups, the genre may have been completely different or cease to exist at all.

Trip-Hop will forever be hailed ‘The Bristol Sound’ and continues to have an influence on the culture of the city today.

Essential Trip-Hop listens:
Massive Attack – Blue Lines
Tricky – Maxinquaye
Portishead – Dummy

Photo by Beezer from the book “Wild Dayz”