Martina Topley-Bird

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2008, 12:00am

Martina Topley-Bird

The Blue God

(Independiente)

The once all-conquering trip hop movement that emerged from Bristol in the early 1990s before disappearing beneath a pile of coffee table books appears to be in full revival.

While Portishead's recent return to form invokes comparisons with Dummy, and Massive Attack and Tricky work on eagerly anticipated new releases, the lesser-known but wonderfully named Martina Topley-Bird has finally stepped out of the shadows.

Her second album, The Blue God, is an eerie, evocative collection of songs to savour.

The singer remains best known as Tricky's muse, whose smouldering vocals illuminated his early albums, including the celebrated Maxinquaye.

They split, personally and musically, in 1998 and her first stab at going solo, 2003's Quixotic, earned a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize, but ultimately drowned in the fame of celebrity collaborators.

This time around she has in-demand producer Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, at the helm and he gives Topley-Bird much more room to express herself vocally.

Like Quixotic, though, the album at times struggles to create the consistent atmosphere and gentle mood swings of classic trip hop. The rhythms slide from the bluesy balladry of Valentine to the pop of Carnies and the edgy, unsettling Razor Tongue.

Even so, The Blue God has moments of beauty and brilliance and, as with all albums in the genre, it's a slow burner that'll creep into your soul with repeated plays.