For a debut album, Martina Topley Bird's Quixotic
comes with a staggering weight of expectation. If her name is only vaguely familiar, her drunken twilight whisper is unmistakable. First heard on Tricky
's genre-defining debut Maxinquaye
and the subsequent albums Pre-Millennium Tension
and Angels with Dirty Faces
, hers is arguably the voice of trip hop. Working with Bristol's voice of doom has left a tough legacy to live up to. Amazingly, Quixotic
far exceeds it. It's a phenomenally sensual album, full of the thick atmospheres, moody swaggers and dark undercurrents that she and Tricky were once synonymous with, but here they're married to equally mesmerising songs. Hence "Lullaby" and "Days of a Gun" are as memorable for their beautiful melodies as they are for their respective backing tracks of drowsy porch light blues and caressing synths.
Meanwhile, an eclectic list of collaborators line up to add a touch of malevolence to her slumber-like vocals. Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme provides the lumbering rock for first single "Need One", DJ/Producer David Holmes digs out some swampy blues samples and demonic slide guitars for "Too Tough to Die" and Tricky himself adds his trademark claustrophobia to twisted love song "Ragga". And as if all that wasn't enough, thanks to monumental orchestration from James Bond composer David Arnold, the smothering "Soulfood" is possibly the most powerful, glorious and humbling soul ballad ever. --Dan Gennoe