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Tricky and his sonic magic

Pundits should be aware that Tricky has reserved an exclusive term for his sonic creation: Tricky-Hop.

"Why not?" he asked a writer recently. "If I supposedly invented it, if I'm, as they say, the Majesty of Trip Hop . . . I want to change the name."

Certainly, no one would dare argue the point to the feisty 30-year-old from Bristol, England. He has emerged as the pre-eminent star in the netherworld of the sonic dance genre, as an artist who has been labeled both genius and lunatic by the rock press.

Ask him to describe his hip-hop-based amalgam of slow, trancelike beats, garbled electronic samples and smoky, distorted vocals, and Tricky (born Adrian Thaws) aptly and simply replies, "Weird."

But his growing influence in the pop world has made him an important influence on artists such as Beck, Bjork, Garbage and Neneh Cherry, as well as the more progressive American hip-hoppers, who regard him as a visionary musician.

His 1996 effort, Pre-Millennium Tension, garnered rave reviews, even from critics who mostly chose to ignore his earlier efforts, Maxinquaye and Nearly God.

"I never wanted to be caught in the trap of making pop music for pop artists," he told the London Times. "Then people expect you to do the same thing time after time."

Raised in the hardened industrial core of the all-black Knowle West district of Bristol, Tricky managed to escape serious run-ins with the law, thanks to a protective grandmother who raised him.

As a teenager, he hung around local dance clubs, rapping and deejaying when the opportunity arose.

In the early '90s he joined the ground-breaking dub band Massive Attack, participating in the collective's acclaimed Blue Lines release. But egos became ruffled as Tricky began to emerge as a star on the British pop scene. Massive Attack retreated to do remix and production work for other artists.

An obsessive worker in the studio, Tricky maintains a grueling schedule of remixing for other artists while tending to his own creations.

"People say I'm prolific. I don't think I'm prolific," he says. "It's just that I can't concentrate on anything for too long. Making music is like painting, drawing when you were a kid. You take a crayon, draw a line. Then when you've had enough of that line you do another line. It's the best fun."

Tricky performs Wednesday at 9 p.m. at the Rubb in Ybor City. Tickets are $14.

TROUBADOUR RETURNS _ It's been a couple of years since singer/songwriter Steve Forbert's last bay area stop. The writer of the early '80s pop classic Romeo's Tune, who restablished himself as one of the country's most brilliant song crafters with the 1991 album The American in Me, has hit the road again on the heels of his latest live recorded effort, Here's Your Pizza.

Forbert performs Saturday at Skipper's Smokehouse, along with special guest Terry Garland. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $11 day of show.

CLASSIC SOUNDS _ '50s-style doo-wop and R&B and soul fills Clearwater's Club More, 703 Franklin St., tonight beginning at 9 with the Reynolds Brothers Band, a quintet featuring the sibling sons of former Edsels founding member Jim Reynolds. Also, fluegelhornist Haji Ahkba, former side man with James Brown, Sun Ra and most recently Van Morrison, makes a return visit to the venue. Tickets are $5.