(4 out of 5)
MAXINQUAYE was one of the densest and most claustrophobic albums to emerge from the mid-‘90s trip-hop boom. While former collaborators Massive Attack indulged in jazzy undertones and wobbly, dub-inflected soul, Tricky seemed determined to have MAXINQUAYE invert that formula into something altogether heavier. More obviously beholden to hip-hop (covering Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,” for example), but also more willing to subvert street culture into something far more ominous and compelling (turning “Black Steel” into a wah-guitar-driven, rockist assault), the album was endlessly – recklessly, even – experimental. Nestled among the gentle, dope-smoking grooves of his many peers, Tricky’s gruff rhymes, off-kilter samples, and soundclash-style rhythms presented a much more aggressive and subversive take on trip-hop. Even today, in this expanded and remastered 15th anniversary edition, the album blasts out of your speakers, creating a total atmosphere of end-of-days paranoia. Unfortunately, the additional disc of remixes (both contemporary and current) and rough mixes does little to improve upon the album’s initial perfection; although the remastering job adds a bit more power, this expanded edition is best recommended only to die-hard fans of the original classic.