The music on Tricky's debut album, "Maxinquaye," is an enigmatic mixture of familiar sounds--hip-hop and rock, vocals jazzy and soulful all bound together in a reverberant ambient atmosphere. When the British "trip-hop" duo took the stage at the Hollywood Grand on Saturday night, backed by a full band, the music they spun was equally heady (despite annoying sound problems), though the mystique of the recorded sounds dissipated under the glare of the stage lights.
The sensual, psychological tension that is so pervasive on "Maxinquaye" manifested itself in the odd physical relationship between the pair's namesake and his foil, Martine. At one end of the stage, Tricky swiveled his torso like a prizefighter as he rifled his words into the microphone, while at the opposite end Martine intently directed her willowy vocals at the floor.
Their only real connection was the music itself and the chain of cigarettes they shared. The vigorous rhythm section beefed up the grooves, drowning out some of the subtler sampled elements of the songs--although the club's dubious acoustics may have been the real culprit.
In any case, even the otherwise engaging playing and Tricky and Martine's intriguing stage presence couldn't really replicate the sultry cool that seeps out of the luscious layers of sound on "Maxinquaye." That, it seems, is a trick relegated to the studio.