Vulnerable

The sonic vicissitudes that are the music of English trip-hop/electronic wizard Tricky are like an alcohol rub for your cerebral cortex.

The sonic vicissitudes that are the music of English trip-hop/electronic wizard Tricky are like an alcohol rub for your cerebral cortex. This, his seventh solo album, finds the head-music wonderboy bouncing back big-time after a clutch of albums that failed to repeat the impact of his scintillating 1995 debut, "Maxinquaye." The first single, "Anti-Matter," is sublimely gnarled dance-pop. A cover of XTC's "Dear God" finds Tricky and the album's main vocalist, Costanza Francavilla, singing like whispering wraiths over subdued acoustic guitar, synth and a distant siren. "How High" is industrial-metal with a Richter-jolting guitar, and "Moody" is hard, black, metal machine music. Throughout, the sounds penetrate the listener osmotically, while the lyrics come in shards that tumble together in glorious abstraction. In a parallel universe, higher life forms are breathing this stuff.—AZ